9-Year-Old San Diego Zoo Mouse Named Oldest Mouse in Human Care by Guinness World Records

The tiny Pacific pocket mouse, named Pat after Patrick Stewart, weighs about the same as three pennies and is part of a San Diego-based conservation breeding program for the endangered species

Guinness Recognizes World's Oldest Mouse in Captivity
Photo: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

A tiny Pacific pocket mouse named Pat earned a big honor on Wednesday.

Pat — named after actor Patrick Stewart — resides at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and at 9 years and 210 days old, he is the oldest mouse in captivity. On Feb. 8, he was officially recognized as the "oldest living mouse in human care" by Guinness World Records, according to the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

"This recognition is so special for our team, and is significant for the species," Debra Shier, the associate director of recovery ecology at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA), said in a news release. "It's indicative of the dedication and incredible care we as an organization provide for each species, from the largest to the very smallest."

Shier established the organization's Pacific pocket mouse conservation breeding program. The species is endangered due to human encroachment on its habitat.

Once a vibrant part of the ecosystem stretching from Los Angeles to the Tijuana River Valley, the species was thought to be extinct until a small remnant population was discovered in 1994 in the Dana Point headlands of Orange County, according to the SDZWA. The mice typically live no further than two miles from the ocean in coastal scrublands, dunes, and riverbanks.

"This acknowledgment 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," Shier said. "These overlooked species can often be found in our own backyards—like the Pacific pocket mouse."

Guinness Recognizes World's Oldest Mouse in Captivity
Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

The smallest mouse species in North America, the Pacific pocket mouse, gets its name because it uses the pockets or pouches in its cheeks to carry food and nesting materials. They are beneficial to the environment because the animals disperse seeds of native plants and encourage plant growth through their digging activities, SDZWA said.

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Pat, who weighs about the same as three pennies, was born on July 14, 2013, in the first year of the Pacific pocket mouse conservation breeding program at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Last year, SDZWA bred a record 31 litters (117 mouse pups) during the spring and summer seasons.

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