Guinness World Records has acknowledged Pat the Pacific pocket mouse's extraordinary longevity.
When Pat the Pacific pocket mouse was born on July 14, 2013, Orange is the New Black had just debuted on Netflix and Despicable Me 2 was tops at the box office. The adorable rodent -- part of a conservation breeding program at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California -- was celebrated by Guinness World Records this week as the "oldest living mouse in human care."
Pat was named for Star Trek star Patrick Stewart and is closing in on a decade of life. He eclipsed the previous oldest living mouse (Fritzy, who made it to 7 years, 225 days) by nearly two years. Check out how spry the little guy is in this video:
In a statement on Wednesday, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said Pat and his kind only weigh about as much as three US pennies. They're the smallest mouse species in North America. They get the "pocket" part of their name from pouches in their cheeks used for food and nesting materials. "Though small, these mice play a crucial role in their ecosystems by dispersing the seeds of native plants and encouraging plant growth through their digging activities," the alliance said.
The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance hopes Pat's story will shine a light on an overlooked endangered species. The wild mice live within a couple miles of the Pacific Ocean, but habitat loss and human encroachment devastated the animals to the point they were believed to be extinct. Remarkably, a small group of the mice was rediscovered in 1994 and there's been hope for the species ever since.
The zoo's breeding program began in 2012, so Pat was one of the early success stories. The program is going well, logging 31 litters with a total of 117 pups during the spring and summer of 2022 alone. Conservationists will release many of the mice into their native habitats in an effort to rebuild the population in the wild.
To borrow a phrase from Star Trek, "Live long and prosper, Pat."