If you visit the Nature Base today you might be able to spot some of our tiny residents – the harvest mice.
We have had harvest mice at the Horniman since 2009 and at the moment we have five of these furry creatures living with us.
Harvest mice are fascinating animals as they are very small – between five and seven centimetres long. The male mice are a grey colour, but when the females are having their babies they will turn a beautiful russet brown colour. The female mice are very territorial and mate for life with their partners. At the Horniman we only keep male harvest mice.
Harvest mice are natural climbers as they are the only mouse in the world to have a prehensile tail, which means it has adapted to be able to grasp or hold objects. The harvest mice use their tails to climb up tall stems of wheat, grasses and reeds. They live in hedgerows and fields, and are often found near water.
The harvest mice make a distinctive nest for their babies that they build above the ground attached to tall grasses, stems and small branches. They weave together grass to make a hollow circular shape where they live with their young for two to three weeks until they are weaned.
They don’t hibernate and are most often seen in the morning and in the evening. Harvest mice eat a mixture of things including seeds, berries and sometimes insects. They love to eat fallen seed from the fields where they live but they won’t ever burrow for their food – they only pick their food from the surface of the ground.
Visit the harvest mice in our Nature Base.