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

What do wood mice eat?

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.

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2

What makes the wood mouse unique?

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.

Wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) on root of tree
Wood mouse on the root of a tree. © CreativeNature_nl/Getty
3

Male wood mice have a surprising sexual adaptation

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

Where do wood mice live?

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

Do wood mice hibernate?

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.

Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) in a tunnel
Wood Mouse in a tunnel. © Damian Kuzdak/Getty
6

Do wood mice groom each other?

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.

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7

How do wood mice escape predators?

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.