Urban Wildlife - Wood Mouse

Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) © Sean Browne

Fascinating Fact about Wood Mouse

The wood mouse is probably the most widespread and abundant British mammal. It is also one of the most widely seen of the small mammals, even close to human habitation.



All about Wood Mouse

What to look for

The wood mouse has a sandy-brown coat and large ears and eyes. The under parts are white, with a yellow streak on the chest, and the tail is slightly hairy. It has large hind feet which help it to leap about. It is about 7.5-11cm long, not including its long tail, and it weighs 20-30g.

When and Where to see

The wood mouse is very active at night, but also at dusk and dawn, running, bounding and climbing from place to place and venturing where other small mammals would rarely go. It is at these times that you may see them foraging for food.
Despite their name wood mice are not confi ned to woodlands. They thrive equally well in more open spaces, even on moorlands, mountainsides and sand dunes. They are also common in gardens, where they often live near sheds and outbuildings. Wood mice can also colonise bird nest boxes to use as a home, so you may get a surprise when cleaning them.

Did you know?

  • Wood mice eat a wide range of seeds from grasses, herbs and trees, as well as buds, shoots, berries and fungi. They also eat insects, worms and slugs.
  • Wood mice dig their own burrow systems, where they store food and spend the day, and where the young are born in a nest chamber which is lined with leaves, moss and grass.
  • Although not very sociable, the mice will normally nest communally in the winter to improve their chances of survival. However, in the mating season the females will adopt
    their own territory and nest singly to produce their offspring.
  • Between March and October a female may bear 4 litters of between 4-7 young. The pups are born in a nest chamber, which is lined with leaves, moss and grass. They are born blind and are weaned at between 18 and 22 days old, when their weight will reach six to eight grams. They grow rapidly and by the time they reach 12 grams they are ready to begin breeding themselves. This means that the wood mouse can increase rapidly in numbers in times of plentiful food.
  • Wood mice are generally short-lived; their maximum life span in the wild rarely more than two years. Few adults will survive from one summer to the next, partly because they are prey to a wide range of animals including foxes, weasels and owls.



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