Help­ing our har­vest mice find a safe home

Stockport Times East - - WILDLIFE -

AT times, be­ing a wildlife recorder can be a thank­less task, and it takes a great amount of skill and pa­tience to count num­bers of species, par­tic­u­larly mam­mals.

In fact, I know a wa­ter vole recorder who has only seen the an­i­mal a cou­ple of times in the wild in all the years she has been look­ing for the lit­tle blighters.

So how on earth do recorders get their facts and fig­ures if they don’t ac­tu­ally see the beast­ies? It’s all down to a bit of de­tec­tive work.

In the case of har­vest mice it tends to be their nests that serve as a way of count­ing num­bers and check­ing if they have nested and bred.

As you wan­der around reedbeds or long grasses in au­tumn and win­ter, you will no­tice the spheres of tightly wo­ven grass, about the size of a ten­nis ball, quite high up on the stems.

Wim­ble­don has do­nated ten­nis balls to cre­ate ar­ti­fi­cial nests to help the species.

This has helped to de­fend the mice against preda­tors although their own nests are pretty strong.

You may find th­ese nests in reeds, grasses, hedgerows and wood­land edges around the whole of the re­gion.

Har­vest mice gen­er­ally stick to seeds and fruit,

Har­vest mice be­ing mainly veg­e­tar­ian, but they will also eat in­sects and spi­ders.

This is quite a lovely look­ing mouse com­pared to your av­er­age brown house va­ri­ety, with gin­ger or yel­low fur and a light belly.

It has a long, hair­less tail and large ears.

The tail is ex­cel­lent for clam­ber­ing up the reeds and plants where its nest is hang­ing.

The har­vest mouse is Europe’s small­est ro­dent and it has been threat­ened by loss of habi­tat.

The Wildlife Trust is work­ing with farm­ers and landown­ers to en­sure th­ese beau­ti­ful crea­tures are given a fight­ing chance.

It is un­likely you will find a har­vest mouse in your house, in fact they only get into barns when they’re car­ried in bales of hay.

The pic­ture, sup­plied by Peter Smith at North West Wild Images, was shown around our of­fice, caus­ing sighs and shrieks of de­light from my col­leagues.

It’s funny how they would be dif­fer­ent shrieks if they came across a mouse in their kitchen.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070. To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to the web­site at www.lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.

For in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust. org.uk.

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