Devon Harvest Mouse Project

In autumn 2016 Devon Mammal Group began a pilot project looking for harvest mice in Devon. It came to our attention that this charismatic species is under recorded in our county. With just a handful of records we wanted to change this.

We came back in 2017 with Pete Cooper as our Harvest Mouse Project Officer, who did a fantastic job of covering 79 of the 90 10×10 km squares we have in Devon. Between Pete and our Harvest Mouse volunteer Surveyors we covered 113 different sites, adding a whopping 140 new records for DBRC! That’s more than doubled the number of harvest mouse records since the project started. There were only 133 records from 62 sites, over a period of 40 years!

Pete also trained over 100 people in how to survey for harvest mice.

Read the 2017-2018 report here: DMG Harvest Mouse Project Report 2017-2018.

What’s new for 2018?

This autumn we are back. We have a new Project Officer, Sarah Butcher. Sarah will be taking up the reins in October. We are going to continue to add new records for the county, train more people in how to survey for this species and focus on key areas. In time, with enough information we hope to understand more about how this species is faring in Devon. Getting people enthused about harvest mice and getting them out in their local areas searching for nests is what we want!

If you would like to take part in this year’s search and training, contact Sarah at harvestmouse@devonmammalgroup.org.

 

Devon mammal group harvest mouse project

With thanks to the Postcode Local Trust and the Norman Family Charitable Trust.

Why winter?

Surveying a small mammal over the coldest months of the year may seem a little unusual. We are not looking for the mice themselves (although we will be doing some trapping too). Most of our surveys are going to be nest searches. Harvest mice build beautiful spherical nests during the summer month to live in. These are set above the ground and made from grass, stripped and entwined around itself. During the summer these nests are almost impossible to find. But when the vegetation starts to die back, and the grass dries they become easier to spot. It’s still tricky, though, but training helps.

So what is the aim of the Project?

We would like to survey as many tetrads (10 x 10 km grid squares) as possible in Devon. Devon is a large county, and with over 90 tetrads this is no small challenge. However, we will be training up anyone who wants to learn, in the hope that the new found knowledge will be put to use and more records will come flooding in! We will be running a number of dedicated training days, as well as smaller training sessions across the county over the next few months. There will be one in your area, so keep an eye on the website to find out when there is one near you!

You can find the map and all the recording forms HERE.