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Mouse, yellow-necked (Apodemus flavicollis)

This agile rodent inhabits the ancient woodlands of southern Britain.

Scientific name: Apodemus flavicollis

Family: Muridae

Appearance

Closely related to the wood mouse, the yellow-necked mouse was only recognised as a separate species in 1834. As the name suggests, it has a band of yellow fur on the neck, but otherwise appears very similar to the wood mouse. Yellow-necked mice are also larger, at around 1.5 times the weight of their relative.

Where and how to spot

The yellow-necked mouse is a woodland species and is particularly common in ancient woodland. Its UK range is restricted to southern England, south Wales and parts of the Midlands. Nocturnal and fond of thick cover, the species is difficult to see without a stroke of luck.

Feeding

Seeds, nuts, fruit, buds and shoots make up the most of the species diet, but it will also eat invertebrates.

Behaviour and breeding

As with most rodents, yellow-necked mice are short lived and many will die within a few months of birth, with very few living more than one year. Foxes, weasels, owls and birds of prey will all eat the species. A high reproductive rate – one female can produce several litters of young in a year – allows the population to sustain these losses.

Threats

Yellow-necked mice numbers are not thought to be declining, but the continued threats facing the UK’s ancient woodland means much of the habitat it relies on is in danger of disappearing.

Did you know?

  • Yellow-necked mice are capable of leaping a metre into the air to avoid predators.
  • The species often climbs trees in search of food.
  • It often makes burrows among and under the roots of trees.