Harvest mice hanging on

Harvest mouse © Amy Lewis

Thanks to volunteers, evidence of one of our rarest mammals was found at a site on Anglesey.

North Wales Wildlife Trust organised a harvest mouse nest survey in Llanddona at the end of January, with the help of the Cwlwm Seiriol project, which aims to enable local residents to improve their natural environment and health by doing conservation work.

Despite cold and frosty conditions, volunteers including local people and students turned out to survey an area of wet grassland /heathland at Rhos Llaniestyn, which is a Local Nature Reserve, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. A painstaking search of suitable tussocky habitat was rewarded with the discovery of harvest mouse nest remains.

Harvest mouse survey at Llaniestyn, Anglesey

Harvest mouse survey at Llaniestyn, Anglesey © Ben Stammers

Harvest mice make breeding nests and winter nests – both intricately woven out of living grass leaves. The nests, which can be home to a whole litter of young, are barely the size of a tennis ball, and the elusive mice themselves are also tiny (weighing less than a 2p coin!), and specially adapted to live amongst the tangled stalk-zone of grassland vegetation.

Harvest mice are a much-declined and threatened species, with only a few records from Anglesey, suggesting they may be hanging on in a handful of areas. North Wales Wildlife Trust are planning to do more surveys like this that can help identify remaining populations. We can hopefully then engage with land managers, and work with them to try and improve the chances of future survival for these fascinating creatures.

If you would like to get involved in future surveys, please contact our Volunteer Development Officer, Katy Haines: katy.haines@northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk