7 things you didn’t know about the wood mouse

Discover fantastic facts about the most common native rodent in Britain. 

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1 Pip pip

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Wood mice love soft fruits, but they only take the pips, leaving the pulp intact. It’s a useful clue to what is ravaging your strawberries. They also eat nuts, shoots, fungi and invertebrates.

2 Navigation aids

Wood mice place conspicuous objects such as leaves or twigs at key positions in their territory. No other animal, apart from humans, is known to perform such way-marking behaviour.

3 Little helpers

Male wood mice have remarkably cooperative sperm. By hooking together in trains of hundreds or thousands of cells, they are able to swim faster than single sperm.

4 Flexible accommodation

The rodent’s alternative common name – long-tailed field mouse – betrays the fact that it is not restricted to woodland. It can also thrive on sand dunes, moorland and in gardens and houses.

5 Restless sleep

Wood mice do not hibernate, although they can enter periods of torpor if conditions get really tough. Breeding may continue through the winter if food is plentiful, following a heavy acorn crop, for example.

6 Male grooming

Grooming plays an important role in wood mouse society. Males groom females more often than vice versa, a behaviour that allows males to get close to females and to monitor their reproductive state.

7 Trick of the tail

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As a last-ditch escape strategy, a wood mouse is able to shed the skin of its tail, which cannot regrow. It’s better to pick them up by the scruff of the neck.