Species: Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)

Family: Old World Rats and Mice (MURIDAE)

Category: Mammals

Location: NW

A. Mammals

More extensive information on mammals can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Old World Rats and Mice (MURIDAE)

Unlike voles and shrews, rats and mice have pointed muzzles, large eyes, prominent ears, long thin tails, and sleek fur. They are versatile feeders. Rat footprints have a long heel on the hind feet with the first and fifth toes at right angles to the three central toes. The toes of the fore feet are splayed. Mouse footprints are similar but smaller. Mouse droppings are hard when dry and do not crumble. Rat droppings are long, blackish-brown and foul-smelling, with one blunt end and one pointed end. Rat burrows normally have scraped out earths, and runways between the entrance holes.

The mouse is a common character in folk tales and children's stories. In C S Lewis's 'The Chronicles of Narnia' Reepicheep is a mouse. In terms of character, mice in folklore are variously brave, helpful, resourceful, and persistent.

Folk cures involving mice abound, most being too ghastly to include here. Eating boiled, fried, or roasted mouse cures bedwetting and whooping cough. Chilblains are cured by rubbing them with mouse skin, and a stammering child may be cured by feeding it mouse pie. A dead mouse rubbed on the cheek will stop toothache. Mice are 'soul animals', and the soul in the form of a mouse can emerge from the mouth while you are asleep. If the soul mouse is chased away you will die.

C. Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)

This brown mouse has pale grey undersides with a small yellow streak on the chest. The long tail is equal in length to the head and body, and relatively it has large eyes, ears and feet. They are agile, nocturnal, woodland feeders, spending the day in a nest built underground, such as under tree roots. They take invertebrates as well as seeds. Nut shells show a chiselled inner edge around a circular hole, with gnaw marks on the surface.


Wood Mouse

The Wood Mouse has pale grey undersides with a small yellow streak on the chest.

(Photo credit: Angela Turner.)