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Wood Mouse , Apodemus sylvaticus

The Wood Mouse is one of Britain’s most abundant mammals. It’s mainly nocturnal with most activity peaking at dusk and dawn. Despite its name its spread isn’t confined to just woodlands , including homes , gardens , grass verges , and moorland. It’s a typical mouse shape with a long tail and large ears. Its coat is dark brown with a lighter off white underside. 

The Wood Mouse is slightly larger than it’s more troublesome relative the House Mouse. It’s present in most parts of the U.K. with an estimated population of around 40 million individuals which grows to over 100 million by the end of autumn. The mouse lives in a below ground burrow system that normally has several entrances. Each burrow has nest chambers and food stores. These burrows are often used by following generations and may sometimes be enlarged or modified if necessary. 

Grooming is an important part of their lives. Wood mice spend a great part of their active time grooming, during which they wipe their face and ears with their front paws. They clean their tails by passing them through their mouths. Mutual grooming is a common activity between males and females.

The Wood Mouse grows to roughly 10 cm long and weigh 30 grams when full grown.

Wood mice are omnivores and thier diet is varied . Seeds , nuts , buds , berries and moss are supplemented with animal foods including snails , insects and worms. Particular favourites include acorns , blackberries and hazelnuts. Food is cached in underground burrows. Food remains are found in disused bird nests, on tree stumps and in sheltered feeding places between the roots of trees or under ledges. 

Breading season is normally from March to October with up to four litters a  year. Each litter will contain 4 – 8 young and the babies are born blind (eyes closed) and hairless. They are weaned after approximately 20 days. Both sexes are promiscuous with a male’s territory normally overlapping several female territories.

Wood mice have no legal protection and conservation does not seem necessary as recolonisation after mortality is often rapid. Wood mice can be beneficial to man by preying on harmful insects, and many trees and shrubs germinate from forgotten wood mouse food stores.

Life expectancy is around a year , with only a few adults survive from one summer to the next. Overall, Wood mice’s numbers remain stable today, and the animals are currently classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List. Wood mice suffer from the loss of hedgerows and loss of their woodland habitat. They are also potentially threatened from agricultural modifications in a form of chemicals, which can be a serious concern both directly and through food contamination. The Wood Mouse provides a valuable source of food for Owls, foxes, mustelids, kestrels and cats.


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