Carolina Gapper’s red-backed vole

(Clethrionomys gapperi carolinensis)


This a small, short-tailed mouse with a total length from 140-155 mm and a weight of 14-42 grams. The back is a reddish color with gray sides and a silvery belly. It is similar to Clethrionomys gapperi gapperi but much darker and brighter and slightly larger. The breeding season occurs in March and 3 to 4 litters are born annually with 4 to 6 young per litter. This species is active any hour or season. The home range is 0.25-1.0 acres. It is solitary and is rather nervous and irritable. It is known to have a trilling song and is an agile and frequent climber. The maximum life span is 20 months.


They are confined to the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Southwest Virginia. They are found on moist shaded slopes around moss covered logs and rocks. The optimum habitat is evergreen forest stands of large diameter trees and an understory with little or no grass.


This species feeds on fungi, bones and antlers. Evergreen fronds are an important food in the winter, and early spring. Plant foods that are consumed consist primarily of unidentified fibrous and leafy vegetation. They also take bark, roots and woody stems and insects are eaten occasionally.