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any of 13 species of small, long-tailed mouselike rodents. Birch mice live in the northern forests, thickets, and subalpine meadows and steppes of Europe and Asia. Their bodies are 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) long, excluding the semiprehensile tail that is longer than the head and body. Birch mice are brown or yellowish brown with slightly paler underparts, and some species have a dark stripe extending over the head and back. They eat both plant material and insects, live in burrows, and hibernate underground from fall into spring. All travel on the ground by leaping, but they are also good climbers, using their tails as additional support.