It’s not clear what it means in mouse years, but at 9-years and 209-days old, Pat the Pacific pocket mouse is now a world record holder.
According to Guinness World Records, which bestowed the honour on the creature which weighs no more than three pennies, the average lifespan of the Pacific pocket mouse in the wild is 1- to 2-years, but in captivity it can increase to 4- to 6-years.
“Enor-mouse news,” the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance proudly announced this week.
Pat, full name Patrick Stewart in celebration of the Star Trek actor, has officially become the oldest living mouse in human care according to Guinness.
“This news is a big win for the tiny endangered species & will help raise awareness about wildlife conservation,” the zoo said on social media.
The Pacific pocket mouse is North America’s smallest mouse species and was thought to be extinct until a teeny, tiny population was found in 1994 in California.
Enor-mouse news 🐭 At 9 years & 209 days old, Pat the Pacific pocket mouse is officially the oldest living mouse in human care & was honored with the @GWR title today. This news is a big win for the tiny endangered species & will help raise awareness about wildlife conservation. pic.twitter.com/poVsw8jqjL— San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (@sandiegozoo) February 9, 2023
“Pat’s age is unprecedented for a mouse,” Guinness said in a statement.
“He’s almost two years older than the previous oldest mouse ever recorded, Fritzy (1977-1985), who was owned by Bridget Beard (UK) and lived to the age of 7 years 225 days,” the globe’s keeper of records added.
After conservationists witnesses a dramatic population decline, a breeding and reintroduction program was created in 2012 to save the species from extinction.
Pat’s parents were two wild-caught parents and became part of the first year of the Pacific Pocket Mouse Breeding Facility at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
And Pat was born on July 14, 2013 at the facility where he has lived his entire life.
Debra Shier, who takes care of Pat at the breeding facility, says Pat has never sired a litter himself, but “he still tries.”
“He has been paired 32 times with 23 different females and while he exhibited good courtship behavior (sandbathing, slow approach and digging), females were extremely aggressive in mate pairings with him,” Dr. Shier added.
In 2022, the recovery ecology team at SDZWA's Beckman Center for Conservation Research cared for 31 litters with a total of 117 pups, the most in the program's history and many of which will be reintroduced to their native habitat this spring. pic.twitter.com/Q0V7trQnZh— San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (@sandiegozoo) February 9, 2023
Last year, was a historic breeding season for the program’s mice.
A record 31 litters were produced, with 117 pups in total. Officials said these mice will also be introduced into the wild, where other rodents from the program have been breeding successfully outside of human care.
“This recognition is so special for our team, and is significant for the species,” Dr. Shier added. “It’s indicative of the dedication and incredible care we as an organization provide for each species, from the largest to the very smallest. This acknowledgement is also a symbol of appreciation for species that people don’t know much about because they’re not charismatic megafauna, but are just as critical for ecosystem function. These overlooked species can often be found in our own backyards—like the Pacific pocket mouse.”