Science and conservation for the world’s 2800 small mammal species

Rodents: Family Aplodontiidae

holding_imgThe Aplondontiidae family consists of one species Aplodontia rufa, the mountain beaver. Mountain beavers have no close relation to the North American beaver. This family extends back to the Miocene, with the genus Myagaulidae being an extinct member. The family can be found in the Nearctic Region, from central California to southern British Columbia. They are found from sea level to the tree line in high mountain peaks within the deciduous and coniferous forest, primarily in moist habitats. Aplodontia are large rodents that weigh approximately 1.5 kg with short tails and coarse dull, fur. This family vocalizes with booming and whistling sounds; when fighting they squeal and grind their teeth to make noise. 
They live in complex burrows with openings that are covered with vegetation or sticks. The burrows have interconnecting tunnels that lead to chambers used for denning, feeding, and storage of food, fecal pellets and refuse. They spend around 75 % of their time inside the burrows only moving around to areas of close proximity to their burrows (Zielinski et. al 2010). Although they are not a social species they often build their nests in concentrated colonies with overlapping territories; there they defend their burrows from other individuals. From the close proximity of their burrows, these herbivores feed on forbs, grasses and ferns; while feeding the mountain beaver re-ingests their soft fecal pellets by catching the excreted pellets into their mouths, a process known as coprophagy.



Work Cited
Myers, P. 2000. “Aplondontiidae” (Online), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 23, 2014 at
Zielinski, W.J., J.E. Hunter, R. Hamlin, K.M. Slauson, and M. J. Mazurek. 2010. Habitat Characteristics at Den Sites of the Point Arena Mountain Beaver (Aplodontia rufa nigra). Northwest Science 84:119-130.
 Author: Rebecca Mendez