The Harvest Mouse is the smallest of the British rodents weighing only 4 to 6g. They live up to 18 months feeding mainly on seeds, fruits and bulbs. Occasionally, they eat insects, moss and fungi, often storing their food underground for a winter store. Extremely active climbers, they tend to be most active during dusk and dawn. With brilliant hearing, they can react sharply to rustling up to 7m away, quickly freezing or dropping from the stalk zone of long grasses to find cover. Being such a small species they have many predators such as; stoats, foxes, cats, weasels, birds of prey, crows and even pheasants.
Breeding nests are built high above the ground and are made from woven grass where the female gives birth to 1 to 7 young up to 3 times each year. Young are usually born between May and October with the most born during August. Unfortunately during very cold or wet weather there is a high mortality rate. Born hairless and blind, harvest mice young will not venture out of their nests until they are 11 days old and become completely independent by 16 days.
Latin name - Micromys minutus
Class - Mammalia
Order - Rodentia
Family - Muridae
IUCN Status - Least concern
Habitat - Areas of tall dense vegetation including cornfields, hedgerows, bamboo stands, reedbeds
Distribution - Range across Europe (although absent from Scandinavia) from UK to Korea
Changes to farming procedures, pesticides and habitat loss
The Harvest Mouse is the only Old World mammal to have a truly prehensile tail. This means the tail automatically curls around anything it touches to hold them on, such as when they are climbing around on thin stalks and stems of tall grasses.
Our Harvest Mice breeding programme has been amazingly successful over the years. We are delighted to continue working alongside university students and other organisations to make sure one of our tiniest creatures in the UK is fully supported.
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