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Mouse, wood (Apodemus sylvaticus)

One of our most common mammals, wood mice play a key role in the woodland food chain.

Also known as: Field mouse

Scientific name: Apodemus sylvaticus

Family: Muridae

Appearance

Wood mice have brown fur with pale underparts. You can find out how they differ from the house mouse here. The species’ large black eyes, big ears and long, hairless tail distinguish it from the bank vole, with which it shares a similar habitat.

Where and how to spot

As the name suggests, wood mice are found in woodland, but they will occupy a wide variety of habitats including farmland, parks and gardens. The species is primarily nocturnal and prefers to stick to dense cover, making it hard to see.

Feeding

Wood mice are omnivores. They will eat seeds, fruit and nuts, but also catch invertebrates such as earthworms, caterpillars and centipedes.

Behaviour and breeding

Wood mice are short-lived animals, with few individuals surviving longer than one year. This is because the species represents an important food item for many predators, including weasels, stoats, foxes, owls and kestrels.

Threats

Wood mice may be trapped to protect grain and seed on farms, but this is not thought to have any serious impact on the population.

Did you know?

  • Wood mice may give birth to as many seven litters of four to seven young in a single year.
  • The species can shed the skin of its tail in a bid to escape predators.
  • In autumn, there may be as many as 114 million wood mice in the UK, but only a minority will survive the winter.