Tuesday, 17 December 2019

...Not Even A Mouse

In a week when the news hasn't been the most cheerful, this glorious little story about harvest mice crept in under the radar [as mice so often do] and I felt it deserved more attention.
The harvest mouse population in Britain has been rapidly dwindling for many years. This beautiful little creature, who makes a nest like a tennis ball, and is the only native British creature with a prehensile tail [capable of twisting and grasping- like a monkey's tail]
This is Britain's smallest's rodent, and in 2014, an enthusiastic, idealistic PhD student called Wendy Fail decided she wanted to reintroduce them to Northumberland. So she painstakingly bred 240 of them in captivity, and then released them gradually into the reedbeds of the East Chevington Nature Reserve. It was a long and complex process, and friends volunteered to help.She got her well-deserved PhD.
Harvest mice are preyed upon by cats, owls and kestrels - but the most devastating damage is done by farmers spraying their crops with pesticides. If they could only leave a wider margin unsprayed round the edges of their fields, it would make a significant difference.
But then, in 2009, a subsequent 'trap survey' revealed not one single mouse. Poor Wendy, she must have felt devastated. Then last month, one of her original team of volunteer helpers contacted her- workers on the Reserve had found two fresh, orb shaped nests.
Wendy was understandably ecstatic- this is clear evidence that the mice are still there. Sophie Webster of the Northumbrian Wildlife Trust said they are setting up new cameras, and 'live mammal traps' so they can attempt to evaluate the size of the population.
Wendy said "I'm not saying we've changed the world - but I hope that what we've done gives other people faith and hope that is is possible to conserve a much-loved species with a bit of hard work and determination."

What a great story - thank you Wendy 


  1. Yay for the little harvest mouse making a come back! Hope the population will continue to grow.

  2. Lovely! Christmas blessings to you and yours x

  3. This made me very, very happy!!!


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