Helping our harvest mice find a safe home
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.