Saturday, 15 July 2017

Black Water Voles and Black Rats


Some more new arrivals to introduce to you, this time of the rodent variety, and ones that may seem quite similar at first appearance... but are in fact very different. First off, take a look at some of our new water voles.



You may notice something a bit different... Yes, he has black fur! It is thought that wild Scottish water voles have a different ancestry to our ones down South, and many wild water voles in Scotland are black in colour. Derek Gow at the West Country Wildlife Centre does amazing work with water vole conservation, and donated a small family of water voles to us including some of his black ones from Scottish lines.



This little family have been put out on to our display island, with our older vole "Walt" coming off display to retire. This is another of the youngsters, this time a brown one, enjoying his breakfast... "Hungry for Apples?"

They are still settling in, but do come out. Best times to see this new family are first or last thing during the day... but you will need to keep quiet and move slow until they get used to the hustle and bustle of being on display.



Our other new arrivals are some black rats. Very similar looking to our black water voles, but more angled features, longer face, larger ears and a very long tail. These have been introduced to our barn enclosure, with our older black rats retiring off display.

Once again, as with our voles, it will take a little while for them to settle, but it won't be too long until they are as visible as our other rats.



Unlike our black water voles, that look the same as brown ones although maybe a little smaller. Black rats do differ in look to our brown rats, being a different species. Black rats are sleeker, with a pointier nose, longer tail and larger ears compared to a brown rat. They are much more agile looking, and this reflect in their more agile behaviour. I would say they are a prettier looking rat too!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

New Keeper: Clare


I alluded to another new arrival at the end of last week, and this time it is of the human variety... This week we welcome Clare to our keeping team.

Clare has recently finished studying at University, and was looking to venture in to the world of wild animal keeping and conservation work. Having worked part time at a pet store, Clare was looking to move on to something where she will learn more and develop her animal keeping skills. Clare has also volunteered for Drusillas education department, making her an ideal choice to join our team which mixes both the husbandry of animals and direct education work with thousands of school children visiting on pre-booked groups each year.

Good luck to Clare, I am sure she will fit in and settle quickly. Do say hello to her when you are next here, and make her feel welcome.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Photo of the Month: June 2017

"Hugo the Hedgehog" by David Jacobson

I love the summer here at the Centre... all the youngsters are at the age where they are beginning to show themselves, the longer lighter evenings allow us to get more work done, and it brings more photographers to the Centre meaning more photos of our wonderful animals being shared.

Lots of great shots seen and sent in this past month, our wildcats continuing to be very popular as are our hedgehogs. In the end we picked this photo above taken by David Jacobson as out photo of the month for June. It is a fun photo showing Hugo during some unusual hedgehog behaviour, self anointing himself during a photo day!

Below are some more pictures that caught our eyes. 


"Wildcat Snarl" by Brian Coles


"What does the fox say?" by Simon 


"Summer Hedgehog" by Kirsten Asmussen


"Kendra's Kittens" by Gill Penny

Well done again to David, whose photo will appear in our gallery in the coffee shop next year, and who will be in with a chance to win a photographic day here at the Centre. As always, click on the names above to see more of the photographers pictures.

More new arrivals next week, and some stunning photographs already being shared from our Members Evening which may well be seen here next month. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Members Evening


Many thanks to all the members who came and spent the evening with us last night. Yesterday was our annual Members Evening, where we stay open for a few more hours to allow members to enjoy the animals in the later, summers light.

It is always a great evening, and we always enjoy allowing you to see the animals during this quieter time, when they are often more active.

Yesterday we put on some extra feeds with the more popular animals, and a couple of extra talks we don't usually do on a normal day. Harvest mice are always popular, so once again we arranged a set up to allow everyone to see them up close and out of their enclosures... also allowing some great photo opportunities for those keen photographers who regularly visit.

Our second extra talk for this year was about our stoats and weasels, where we were able to introduce you to our new arrivals one the past few months.



For those that weren't here last night, we have had some new rescues arrive at the Centre that have needed a new home. 3 weasels and a stoat. Our new stoat came from Folly Wildlife Rescue, where he had been hand reared by one of our members, Margaret. She has done such a great job, that he is now full of health, and extremely friendly. She named him "Columbus", and you can no see him in our hedgerow enclosure. Columbus is such a poser, as you can see in the photo above, and has already met many school groups in his short time here.

Shortly after Columbus arrived, we had a call from a gentleman in Oxford who had accidentally ran over a weasel carrying a baby... Unfortunately the mother died, but miraculously the baby survived. He brought the weasel down to us to look after, and she has now become arguably the friendliest weasel we have ever had. We named her Ginny (Weasley).



I have often told people that female weasels aren't much bigger than a pack of polos, so set up a photo to show this with Ginny performing admirably.

As well as Ginny, two new male weasels have joined our team too... Wilfred and Wallace. Wallace joins Ginny in our hedgerow enclosure, where we hope they will become a breeding pair next season. Wilfred, who is pictured at the top of this post, has moved up to one of our photographic pens opposite our polecats You can see how well he poses already! He will eventually be paired up with our other female weasel, Nina.

So lots of mustelid movements happening, more to come too which we will share over the coming weeks.