Harvest Mice

I was introduced to this fascinating and delightful little mouse nearly 40 years ago and I have been fond of them ever since. 35 years ago I undertook a photo study of a captive colony but the transparencies I took then have unfortunately deteriorated. I therefore recently embarked on a project to retake them, this time, digitally. As in 1979 I used purpose built enclosures and established a number of breeding colonies. The resulting project took much longer than I thought but has given me a fascinating insight into the private world of these delightful little creatures. 
 
As Britain’s smallest British rodent harvest mice are the only old world mammal to have truly prehensile tails which they use to help them climb. They are indeed extremely active and agile climbers feeding in the stalk zone of long grasses and reeds. Their eyesight is poor but the hearing very acute and in the wild they will react rapidly to noise; either freezing or dropping into cover in response to rustling sounds up to 7m away.
 
In the wild and with the correct conditions in captivity they build exquisite nests of woven grass well above ground. Indeed it is these nests which are the most obvious signs of their presence. The nests tend to be found in dense vegetation and are generally located on the stalk zone of supportive grasses, at least 30cm above ground in short grasses and up to a metre in tall reeds. The size of the nest can vary from only 5cm in diameter for non-breeding nests to 10cm in diameter for breeding nests.
 
Take a tour of some of my photos collected together here and I guarantee that you too will fall in love with this diminutive rodent. Let me know what you think please.


Such has been the interest in this project that I am running a workshop for fellow photographers who want an opportunity to photograph them themselves.

More details can be found by following the link below.

 

Gallery Photos

Please click gallery photo below to open each gallery and see more photos.
 

General Photos

Harvest mice are truly fascinating creatures and keeping a colony in captivity allowed me to observe and photograph many aspects of their lives.
 
The photos here are more general shots of adults in a purpose built large enclosure with dense clumps of vertical grass stems for them to climb. 
   
 

Breeding

Established pairs of harvest mice are prolific breeders and fantastic fun to watch and photograph.

The mother is a diligent parent and the breeding nest she constructs a fantastic work of art described in 1767 by the Dorset naturalist Gilbert White as a “wonderful procreant cradle”

   
 

The story of one nest and one excellent mother!

Harvest mice make very diligent mothers and one I kept was especially capable. Her first nest and brood suffered a number of perils but she triumphed and rescued them every time.

I thoroughly enjoyed photographing what was at times a tense set of events.

   

Harvest Mouse Workshop Photos

I run workshops for fellow photographers wishing to photograph harvest mice please contact me at bob@naturesphotos.co.uk for more information.