Harvest Mouse

 (C) Helen Haden (shared under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license)

Scientific name: Micromys minutus

Family: Muridae

Appearance: The smallest British rodent, the Harvest Mouse is definitely tiny. It has orangey-brown fur on its upper side and is white underneath, with hairy ears, a blunt nose and beady eyes. The Harvest Mouse also has a long, prehensile tail which it uses to aid climbing stalks of long vegetation. 

Size: Head and body 5-8 cm; Tail 5-8 cm; Weight 5-11 g.

Natural history: The Harvest Mouse was thought to occur only from central Yorkshire southwards, but sightings and recent surveys have found its characteristic round, woven nests further north in County Durham and Northumberland suggesting either an historical lack of records or an expansion in range. The diet of the Harvest Mouse includes seeds, fruit, berries and invertebrates. They feed in the stalk zone of tall vegetation and are most active around dawn and dusk. They have extremely acute hearing which is needed to avoid predation from a wide variety of predators including weasels, stoats, owls, hawks and cats. Breeding occurs throughout the summer with a peak around August. Females give birth to a litter of around six young which are born blind and naked. They grow extremely quickly however and are exploring outside the nest after 11 days. A new nest is constructed for each litter.