Harvest Mice on Parc Slip

Eloise Neighbour is a Cardiff university student studying Ecology; she has just started her year -long placement at WTSWW, based at Parc Slip Nature Reserve.

Eloise’s placement project is focusing on the resident population of harvest mice (Micromys minutus); the project will be primarily comparing how successful two different types of traps are for monitoring the species. The two trap types are Longworth small mammal traps and trip-traps, which will be placed in the stalk zone of a marshy grassland field at Parc Slip. This trapping will go alongside traditional nest searching as well as some innovative use of bait stations.

Eloise checking traps for harvest mice

Eloise checking traps by Rose Revera

The bait stations consist of an elevated platform which provides food for the mice; the food is surrounded by mesh of a certain size to prevent bigger species consuming the bait. The bait used is a mixture of bird seed, millet and maggots as harvest mice eat both insects and vegetation.

Motion sensitive cameras are placed by each bait station in order to film any species eating from the bait station or species that are generally attracted to the station. If harvest mice are caught on camera it would allow future surveys to use this method as well as provide behavioural information of harvest mice such as their feeding habits and interactions with other species.

General nest surveying will also take place; this is a relatively simple method of finding harvest mice nests which take the shape of a spherical ball made of vegetation. These nests are a maximum of 10cm across however so are more easily found after vegetation has died back later in the year.

The data collected will be analysed and hopefully show the better model to survey harvest mice, this will essentially help with future surveys and data collection. The results will also hopefully show which areas in a habitat are used and potentially provide estimates on population size.

If when walking around Parc Slip you see bait stations or trapping devices please do not touch as this might affect the project data. We will keep you informed of how the project goes, so hopefully there will be some harvest mice footage coming to your screens soon!

If you are interested in finding out more of this project, please email Eloise.