Monday, 3 December 2012

Harvest Mouse; Species Profile

The harvest mouse is Britain's smallest rodent, and one of the country's smallest mammals. It's habitat is varied depending on where you find them, but they seem to prefer the lower lands of Southern England and can be seen in reed banks, hedgerows and in or around farmlands.

They do nest in crop fields, but only when there is sufficient winter coverage too such as thick brambles or hedgerows. They will eat a variety of seeds, nuts, berries, fruit and smaller invertebrates.

Harvest mice in the wild will usually only live for a year to a year and a half, but in captivity will last double that. Each summer they can have around 5 litters, sometimes more, of up to 8 young. Most of these youngsters in the wild will of course fall prey to an abundance of predators such as weasels, owls, foxes and birds of prey... but then that is an important role to play in the grand "circle of life"... cue Sir Elton John...

 - A single harvest mouse can weigh only the amount of a single 2 pence coin

 - Harvest mice practically have opposable thumbs on their hind feet, helping them to grip on to thin stems

 - The harvest mouse is the only mammal in all of Europe to have a prehensile tail, acting as a 5th limb to grip on to the stalks they are climbing

The latin name is very apt for this little mouse. Micromys minutus, it describes our smallest rodent perfectly, and I think even people who may have a slight aversion to mice and rats can't help but find this minute micro mouse cute.

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