Harvest mouse sees North East resurgence

Harvest mouse Image copyright Amy Lewis
Image caption Harvest mice have been recorded in Teesdale for the first time in 40 years

The harvest mouse has seen a resurgence in numbers in the north-east of England.

The small rodent is rarely seen in the region, but a survey of 37 sites across County Durham by Durham Wildlife Trust found nine new records.

This was more than was seen in the whole of the 20th Century and the first in Teesdale for 40 years.

The tiny mammals are mainly found from Yorkshire southwards and in parts of Wales.

Their favoured habitats are tall grass in areas such as farmlands, road side verges, hedgerows, reed beds, dykes and salt marshes where nests can be built.

The Harvest Mouse

The harvest mouse is Britain's smallest rodent

In Britain, they are found from Yorkshire southwards and in parts of Wales.

They are also found in most of Europe, east Russia, Japan, South China and North Korea

They measure between 5-8cm and weigh 5-11g

They are most active at dusk and go underground during the winter

Females give birth to up to three litters a year

Source: BBC Nature

Vivien Kent, the trust's conservation officer, said: "A national survey in the 1970s reported only a handful of harvest mouse records in the North East and there have been very few since.

"These new records represent more than were reported in County Durham during the whole of the 20th Century."

Ian Bond, from the Northumbria Mammal Group, who also took part in the survey, added: "Our research over the past decade changed our view of harvest mice in the North East by indicating that they seem to be quite widely distributed across the Tees Valley.

"However, this survey has revised that picture again with new records showing that they are also present across East Durham, with isolated records in Teesdale and Upper Weardale suggesting that they might be much more widespread than anyone had imagined."

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