Birch mice (genus Sicista) are small jumping rodents that resemble mice with long, tufted tails and very long hind legs, allowing for remarkable leaps. They are the only extant members of the family Sminthidae.[1] They are native to Eurasian forests and steppes. All variants possess a long tail of 65 to 110 mm (2.6 to 4.3 in) of length and weigh about 6 to 14 g (0.21 to 0.49 oz). Head and body length of 50 to 90 mm (2.0 to 3.5 in) and hind foot length of 14 to 18 mm (0.55 to 0.71 in).[2] The animal's skin color is light brown or dark-brown to brownish yellow on the upper side and paler on the underside, but generally brownish.[2] Birch mice have a vast geographic distribution in that they inhabit a wide variety of habitats, from semiarid areas to subalpine meadows.[3]

Birch mice
Sicista betulina 03.JPG
Sicista betulina
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sminthidae
Genus: Sicista
Gray, 1827
Type species
Mus subtilis

See text


Nineteen species are listed by the American Society of Mammalogists as of 2021:[4]


All species of Sicista cluster into five major lineages: S. betulina, S. caucasica, S. caudata, S. tianschanica, and S. concolor.[5]


  1. ^ Lebedev, Vladimir S.; Bannikova, Anna A.; Pagès, Marie; Pisano, Julie; Michaux, Johan R.; Shenbrot, Georgy I. (2013). "Molecular phylogeny and systematics of Dipodoidea: a test of morphology-based hypotheses". Zoologica Scripta. 42 (3): 231–249. doi:10.1111/zsc.12002. ISSN 1463-6409. S2CID 86686066.
  2. ^ a b Ronald M. Nowak (1999). Walker's mammals of the world. JHU Press. pp. 1329–. ISBN 978-0-8018-5789-8. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  3. ^ Cserkész, T., Fülöp, A., Almerekova, S. et al. J Mammal Evol (2019) 26: 147.
  4. ^ Database, Mammal Diversity, Mammal Diversity Database, retrieved 2022-05-21
  5. ^ Lebedev, Vladimir; Rusin, Mikhail; Zemlemerova, Elena; Matrosova, Vera; Bannikova, Anna; Kovalskaya, Yulia; Tesakov, Alexey (August 2019). "Phylogeny and evolutionary history of birch mice Sicista Griffith, 1827 (Sminthidae, Rodentia): Implications from a multigene study". Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. 57 (3): 695–709. doi:10.1111/jzs.12279. S2CID 91273821.