Quick facts

Common name(s): wood mouse, long-tailed field mouse, field mouse

Scientific name: Apodemus sylvaticus

Family: Muridae

Habitat: broadleaf and mixed woodland, grassland, farmland, hedgerows

Diet: seeds, fruit, nuts and insects

Predators: larger mammals, such as foxes and badgers, and raptors

Origin: native

What do wood mice look like?

Wood mice have brown fur with pale underparts, large black eyes, big ears and a long, hairless tail. Their bodies are around 10cm long.

Not to be confused with: house mice which are a greyer-brown and unlikely to be seen outside of buildings. Bank voles have noticeably smaller eyes and ears, as well as a shorter, hairy tail.

Wood mouse in woods

Credit: Wildlife Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

What do wood mice eat?

Wood mice are omnivores. They eat seeds, fruit and nuts in autumn when they are in abundance, but also catch invertebrates such as earthworms, caterpillars and centipedes.

Did you know?

They don’t hibernate but can go into torpor during particularly cold winters

How do wood mice breed?

The breeding season is between February and October. Females produce litters of four to eight young up to six times in one year. The young stay with their mothers for around twenty days and reach sexual maturity after two months.

Wood mice are short-lived animals, with few individuals surviving longer than one year. They are an important food source for many predators, including weasels, stoats, foxes, owls and kestrels.

Female wood mouse on branch

Credit: (Photo: Colin Varndell / Alamy Stock Photo)

Where do wood mice live?

As the name suggests, wood mice live in woodland, but they will occupy a wide variety of habitats including farmland, parks and gardens. They occasionally venture into buildings.

Did you know?

Wood mice can shed the skin on their tail in a bid to escape predators

Did you know?

Wood mice rarely live longer than 12 months.

Signs and spotting tips

Wood mice are primarily nocturnal and prefer to stick to dense cover, making them hard to see. For the best chance of seeing a wood mouse, be as quiet as possible and watch sources of possible food, such as fruit and nuts.