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Meet Pat, a Tiny Mouse with a Larger-Than-Life Title  

This Pacific pocket mouse, named after actor Sir Patrick Stewart, just received an official Guinness award for a particularly impressive feat. 

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Pat now holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest living mouse in human care. The diminutive rodent, weighing no more than just three pennies, resides at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and has lived a lengthy life of 9 years and 209 days. 

That’s no small feat. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Pacific pocket mice typically live for 4 to 6 years in captivity, and only 1 to 2 years in the wild. Pat is an especially impressive case. According to the Guinness team, he’s two years older than the previous record holder, Fritzy, who lived to the age of 7 years and 225 days. 

The small rodent was born as part of a conservation breeding program at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on July 14, 2013. Since then, he’s been living it up under the watchful eye of the staff. 

“We’re thrilled to receive this recognition for Pat and our team’s dedication to each and every species,” said the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Debra Shier. “It showcases the remarkable care and attention we provide, regardless of size or fame.”

The Pacific pocket mouse is the smallest known mouse species in North America. It’s named after the cheek pouches the mice use to store food and nesting materials while on the go. 

At one point, the pocket mouse could be found everywhere from Los Angeles to the Tijuana River Valley, but its population as a whole suffered a devastating decline after 1932 thanks to habitat destruction and human encroachment.  

According to the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, the pocket mouse was even believed to be extinct for a span of 20 years. Fortunately, that all changed when minuscule, isolated populations were found in Orange County, California in 1994. Evenso, the Pacific pocket mouse remains an endangered species. 

The Pacific pocket mouse may not be the adorable rodent that everyone’s familiar with, but it does play a crucial role in its ecosystem. The mice disperse native plant seeds as they travel, and their digging encourages growth. That makes them an integral part of a healthy and diverse environment.

That’s why the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance kicked off a breeding program in 2012 to help preserve the lesser-known species. It resulted in the birth of 117 pups in 31 litters in 2022 alone. The pups are planned to be released into the wild this spring. 

Meanwhile, a small population of Pacific pocket mice has established itself in Orange County’s Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. They began breeding on their own there in 2017, removing the need for human intervention. Little by little, the pocket mouse population is on the rise. 

As for Pat, he’ll continue to live out his years in his habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park with what may be one of the coolest names ever.

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