by Duncan Coleman, Wildlife Ranger at Trentham
On a crisp Sunday morning, the 12th of November, an enthusiastic team comprising myself, Harvey Tweats (our Beaver and Wildlife Ranger), and our dedicated wildlife volunteers joined the Staffordshire Mammal Group for a unique and exciting endeavour. Our mission was to survey Trentham for the presence of a particularly special resident – the Harvest Mouse (Micromys minutus), Europe’s smallest rodent.
A Tale of Two Rodent Extremes
At Trentham, we are in the unique position of hosting both extremes of Europe’s rodent size spectrum. From the imposing beaver, tipping the scales at a hefty 30 kilograms, to the minuscule harvest mouse, weighing a mere 4-6 grams. This remarkable contrast between our largest and smallest rodent inhabitants underscores the diverse and rich wildlife tapestry of Trentham.
Artisans of the Grasslands
These tiny mice excel in creating intricate nests that resemble woven tennis balls, delicately perched in tall grasses. Our survey focused on locating these nests, which are crucial indicators of their presence during the winter months.
Conserving Our Tiny Treasures
Listed as a Biodiversity Action Plan Species, the harvest mouse is facing threats primarily from habitat loss. At Trentham, we’re working on enhancing their existing habitat and connecting grassland areas to create a sanctuary for these charming creatures.
A Closer Look at Their Lives
Harvest mice are agile climbers, feeding in the stalk zones of long grasses and reeds. Their diet of seeds, berries, and insects plays a vital role in our ecosystem. They reproduce rapidly, highlighting their importance in maintaining ecological balance.
Be a Part of Our Journey
This survey, part of a national initiative, was not just about data collection – it was a hands-on experience in wildlife conservation for our volunteers. We’re always looking for more passionate individuals to join our team. If you’re interested in volunteering at Trentham and aiding our conservation efforts, I encourage you to get in touch.
As we delve further into the wonders of wildlife at Trentham, we look forward to sharing more insights and experiences with you. Until our next adventure, let’s keep our eyes peeled for the small wonders that make Trentham a true wildlife haven.