wood mouse can easily be distinguished from the house mouse by its larger
ears and eyes. Its warm brown coat cannot generally be confused with
the dull greyish coat of the house mouse, although unusual colour variations
and the grey fur of the young of both species may make identification
more difficult. The wood mouse does not have the distinctive odour associated
with the house mouse.
mice have soft, smooth fur which
is sandy or orange brown on the head and back, yellowish on the flanks
and white on the belly. There is usually a small streak of yellow pigmentation
in the otherwise white fur of the chest. The tail is almost as long
as the body and has a sparse covering of black hairs. The tops of the
feet are covered by short white hairs and each toe - four on the fore
feet and five on the hind - ends in a sharp claw.
This varies according to season and locality. On mainland Britain in
the spring: Male is 25g and the female is 20g (unless she is in an advanced
stage of pregnancy).
or orange brown on head and back, yellow on flanks, white on belly.
Young: greyish brown.
- 26 days.
of young: Usually
2 - 9 with an average of 5.
averages 2 - 3 months, may survive 18 - 20 months in the wild, 2 years
or more in captivity.
seeds, but eats a wide range of plant and animal food.
weasel, tawny owl, long - eared owl.
in Britain and Ireland and also on many of the surrounding islands.
mice are primarily seed eaters (granivores), relying to a great extent
on the seeds of trees such as oak, beech, ash, lime, hawthorn and sycamore.
Every year they eat a high proportion of the annual seed crop and it
seems likely that only small quantities of seed therefore, survive to
germinate the following spring. The mice are efficient seed gatherers
and when there is a plentiful supply on the ground, they carry them
back to the nest for storage. Small invertebrates, particularly small
snails and insects, may be eaten throughout the year, but are particularly
important sources of food in late spring and early summer. This is the
time of year when seeds are least available and larval and adult insects
are abundant. Moth caterpillars which fall from the upper canopy of
trees to pupate in the soil, are a common food in summer.
young wood mice are born naked and blind. They grow their first greyish-brown
coat after about six days, their eyes open after 16 days and they are
weaned at around 18 days old. Survival of the young and adults is poor
during the first half of the breeding season. Adult males are aggressive
to one another and to the young, who are driven from the nest soon after
weaning. Adult females may be weakened by constant pregnancies and feeding
of the young.
yellow necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) is similar
in appearance to the wood mouse, but it is larger, weighing up to 45g,
and has a distinctive collar of yellow fur (see picture below).
two species behave differently when handled. While the wood mouse is
relatively passive, the yellow necked mouse struggles and squeals. The
yellow-neck is restricted to the south-east, south and west of England
and to the eastern parts of Wales, where it is found mainly in mature
deciduous woodland areas. Although it is not aggressive towards the
wood mouse, it is avoided by this smaller, less dominant animal and,
within a shared area of woodland, the two species may rarely meet. Little
is known about the diet of the yellow-neck, but it is probably similar
to that of the wood mouse.
annual population cycle differs slightly to that of the wood mouse.
Numbers increase from the start of the breeding season in spring. At
this time, the mice may move into a variety of habitats from the restricted
woodland areas in which they have spent the winter. The population continues
to increase throughout the autumn, but survival in the winter is poor
and by early spring the yellow-neck is scarce throughout it's range
you can see from the picture below the yellow-neck is almost identical
to the wood mouse.
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