An identification guide to the small mammals of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

.from dormice to dolphins! A Guide to the Small Mammals of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Contents Page 1 2-3 4-5 6-7 8-9 10-11 12 13 14 Introduction Mice Voles Shrews Rats Nests Feeding remains Droppings and footprints Further information and reading Illustrations by Jenny King.Celebrating Cornwall's Mammals .

shrews and rats) and to encourage their recording. All you have to do is record what mammal species you see. as a result they can be difficult to study. Small mammals typically do not exceed 130mm from head to body. For the purpose of this guide however we have also included both rats and water voles.co. each one giving clear illustrations of each small mammal. record and enjoy the small mammals found throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. but sometimes confused with the smaller mammal species. where and when you see them. Whether you see a Wood Mouse on your bird table. Alex Howie Mammal's Project Co-ordinator ERCCIS. This information will enable us to work towards conserving them. is lacking. Cornwall. a shrew brought in by your cat. We hope An identification guide to the small mammals of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will inspire you to find. The guide is divided into seven sections. nearly half of the total number of land mammal species found in the county. Further copies can be obtained from the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS) or downloaded from our website www. of producing this guide is to assist in the recognition of the small mammal species (mice. a Hazel nut gnawed by a Dormouse or a Harvest Mouse nest.uk.TRURO. voles. as well as the tracks and signs they leave behind. therefore.Introduction There are thought to be 11 species of small mammal in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Descriptions of the key identification features and further details relating to the species in Cornwall and Scilly are given in the accompanying text boxes. All completed recording forms should be sent to ERCCIS (address given below). Small mammals are elusive creatures. A simple recording form is included with this guide to aid recording. many are nocturnal and very shy. we would like to know! The recording form can be photocopied and taken into the field with you. The primary purpose. Five Acres. recognise. as well as their populations and habitat preferences. By recording when and where we see our small mammals we can monitor their distributions and gain a greater understanding of their populations and status within the County. not classed as small mammals. and who you are.cornwallwildliferecords.TR4 9DJ Page 1 . Our knowledge and understanding of their distributions across the County. Allet.

Tail 70-95mm Harvest Mouse Micromys minutus Size: Head-body 50-70mm. Tail 24-44mm House Mouse Mus musculus Size: Head-body 72-103mm.Tail 77-118mm Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius Size: Head-body 60-90mm. Tail 50-70mm Yellow-necked Mouse Apodemus flavicollis Size: Head-body 95120mm.80mm.Mice Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus Size: Head-body 48mm .Tail 5768mm 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Page 2 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 cm Illustrations are not to scale .

white underside Yellow-necked Mouse Bigger than Wood Mouse. gardens. Grey/brown on top grey/white underside and underside. yellow/orange streak greasy fur on chest between forelegs < 75% of head and body length. black/pink all over. prominent eyes. hedgerows. farm buildings. House Mouse Harvest Mouse Dormouse Short muzzle. musky scent Golden brown top.Wood Mouse Distinguishing Large ears. scaly with some fur. tip of tail prehensile Slightly shorter than head-body length. yellow/brown band across the chest Equal to head-body length. large eyes ears and hind feet Red/brown on top. brown/pink all over. long black whiskers. pale below Woodland. ringed Gardens. with some fur. gardens. pointy ears . sand dunes 70-95% of headbody length. very furry Habitat Field margins. eyes compared to blunt muzzle. hedgerows Active Mainly nocturnal Common Mainly nocturnal Common Nocturnal. black fur on the top Colour Red/brown on top. hibernates Oct/Nov . very furry tail Orange/brown on top. farmland. greasy fur.relatively small nose. long tail. cereal Woodland/coppiced farmland. farmland. hairy Wood Mouse. pale buff underside small yellowish stripe/mark on chest Large ears. grassland. scrub.April Nationally rare Nocturnal Very unlikely to be seen in Cornwall . hedgerows Tail Prehensile tail. smaller Smallest of the mice. long grass woodland. pale grey underside. yellowish collar across chest. eyes and features hind feet. black fur on the top. reedbeds Mainly nocturnal Nationally under recorded Page 3 Woodland. scrub hedgerows. and hay meadows.

Voles Water Vole Arvicola terrestris Size: Head-body 120-235mm.Tail 36-72mm More obvious ears 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Page 4 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 cm Illustrations are not to scale .Tail 40-146mm Comparatively larger Field Vole Microtus agrestis Size: Head-body 90-115mm.Tail 18-49mm Less obvious ears Bank Vole Clethriomys glareolus Size: Head-body 90-110mm.

slightly furry Habitat Woodland. farmland.Bank Vole Distinguishing features Reddish fur colour. grey on flanks Tail 50% of head-body length. larger ears and eyes and longer tail than Field Vole Field Vole Greyish fur colour. fur dark on top. white on underside 30% of head/body length. grassland. paws and neck. greyish fur colour. farmland. hedgerows. scrub. banks Open woodland. grassland. pale brown fur all over 55-77% of head-body length. shaggier fur than Bank Vole. sand dunes Fresh water. scrub. grey underside. shabby coat Water Vole Blunt muzzle. steep river banks with good vegetation cover Active Day and night Common Day and night Common Page 5 Day and night Very unlikely to be seen in Cornwall . very short tail Dark grey/brown on top. gardens. very small ears and shorter tail compared to a rat. smaller ears. road verges. makes a 'plop' noise as enters water Dark brown Colour Red/brown.

Tail 45-77mm 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Page 6 White-toothed Shrew Crocidura suaveolens Size: Head-body 50-82mm.Tail 24-44mm Pygmy Shrew Sorex minutus Size: Head-body 40-60mm.Tail 32-46mm Water Shrew Neomys fodiens Size: Head-body 67-96mm.Tail 24-44mm 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 cm Illustrations are not to scale .Shrews Common Shrew Sorex araneus Size: Head-body 48-80mm.

young have furry tails. mainly aquatic. black and white coat. gardens. prominent ears compared to the other three species Colour Three tone . yellowish underside Tail Slightly shorter than head-body length. grassland. Generally close to water. road verges Mainly nocturnal Common 65-70% of head/body length. adults have a few stiff hairs underneath and bald on top Woodland. paler sides. proportionally longer.dark brown Brown back. not in Cornwall . farmland. thicker and hairier than the other shrew species Black on top. three tone coat. tail shorter than body features length. especially heath land. pale back. red tips to teeth White-toothed Shrew White teeth. two tone coat. scrub. red tips to teeth Pygmy Shrew Smallest of our shrews. long hairy tail. underside grey/white underside 50% of head/body length.Common Shrew Distinguishing Dark velvety hair. domed head. gardens. sand dunes land and seashore Day and night Desperately underrecorded Page 7 Active Nocturnal Under-recorded Mainly nocturnal Found on the Isles of Scilly. white underside Red/brown on top. red tips to teeth Water Shrew Largest of our shrews. prominent keel of stiff white silvery hairs on underside used for swimming Hairy Habitat Woodland edge. grassland. All habitats on the Isles farmland. heath muddy river banks of Scilly.

Tail 170-230mm 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Page 8 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 cm Illustrations are not to scale .Rats Black Rat Rattus rattus Size: Head-body 150-240mm.Tail 115-260mm Brown Rat / Common Rat Rattus norvegicus Size: Head-body 214-290mm.

large hairless ears. silent as enters water Black Rat Very pointed nose. watercourses Near buildings. hairless and thinner than tail of Brown Rat Habitat Generally where there are people and food supplies. particularly in ports. shabby coat Black.Brown Rat Distinguishing features Large relatively hairless ears. farms. not found in water Colour Grey/brown. scaly 100-130% of head-body length. Active Mainly nocturnal Common Nocturnal Very unlikely to be seen in Cornwall Page 9 . field margins. black colour. thicker than Black Rat. glossy fur Tail 80-100% of head body length. ships. hairless with darker skin on top.

Nests More commonly found nests Harvest Mouse nest Field Vole run Dormouse nest Rat burrow 6-8cm diameter Note: large spoil heap at entrance. Burrows connected by network of runs Bank vole burrow Note: <3cm diameter Food collected near entrance Illustrations are not to scale Page 10 .

<1m Entrance Lacks an obvious entrance Obvious exit/ entrance hole. open woodland. gardens. dunes Leaves. Sometimes make use of old bird nests Tightly woven out of stripped Honeysuckle. underground. Hazel) and scrub. grass Ball shaped Finely shredded grass Grass Size Spherical Usually underground Up to 10cm. 15cm diameter if breeding nest Usually 5m+. Brambles. scrub. woodland. moss. hedges. larger but will nest in bird in winter and less and Dormouse spherical boxes. Rarely moss and leaves About 10cm diameter. Grassland: moss. dense coppice (esp. dense vegetation cereals. damp ground. hay meadows. deciduous woodland. rushes. arable land. young forestry plantations Wood Mouse Nests often underground. Many entrances and nest chambers Several One One Page 11 . hedgerow. Bramble and Bracken scrub. banks.Dormouse Where to find nest Hedge. reedbeds Material Woodland: feathers. Sometimes lower if in shrub layer or hedge Bank Vole Woodland. in logs or in tree roots Field Vole Grasslands. at base of grass tussocks. leaves. Can have several chambers Underground 30-60cm Height above ground Ground level/ under ground Tussock height. shredded grass Harvest Mouse Grass tussocks. moss. herbs.

scraped out inner ring Wood Mouse Tooth/chisel marks on the surface and inner edge of hole Bank Vole No gnaw marks on surface. Dormouse Tooth/chisel marks on the surface. tooth/chisel marks on inner edge of hole Chewed grass Field Vole 2-3cm long Piles of chewed grass stems found amongst runs in long grass Cut at 45º Often found next to droppings Illustrations are not to scale Water Vole 10cm long Piles of chewed grass. smooth.Feeding remains Squirrel Smooth split in two from top to bottom by adult. reed or pith from rushes Cut at 45º Found near watercourses Page 12 . more of a jagged split by juveniles.

2. 2. musky smell Like all mice droppings they are very hard when dry and do not crumble (unlike bat droppings which do crumble) Field Vole 6-7mm long. 1.8cm long. 4 toes 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Page 13 11 Black Rat Hind foot: 2.1cm long. 4-5mm thick Odourless Cylindrical. found in small piles along runs. black/brown Water Vole 8-12mm long.Droppings and footprints House Mouse 6mm long. 5-6mm thick Foul smelling Tapered/pointed at one end. 2-3mm thick Odourless Cylindrical.8cm wide.3cm long.5cm long. 2mm thick Strong. fibrous Brown Rat 15-20mm long. 5 toes Fore foot: 1.5cm wide. green. 2cm wide. 4 toes 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 cm Illustrations are not to scale .7cm wide. 5 toes Fore foot: 1. deposited in latrine sites Brown Rat Hind foot: 3.

cornwallwildlifetrust. Collins. London. and P. Bullion. A Handbook for Biological Recorders (2000) CISFBR and ERCCIS Collins Field Guide to Mammals (1993) D. Bang.erccis.Truro. Inworth Street. London. Sargent and P. Morris. Barrett.uk Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS) c/o Cornwall Wildlife Trust Web-site: www. Field Studies Council.uk Mammals Trust UK 15 Cloisters House.uk Further reading A Guide to British mammal tracks and signs (2001) S. SW8 4BG (0207) 498 5262. Flowerdew.org. London.co. Animal Tracks and Signs (2001) P.TR4 9DJ (01872) 273939 Web-site: www.The Mammal Society. How to Find and Identify Mammals (2003) G.Whittet Books Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly . and P.mtuk. 8 Battersea Park Rd. SW11 3EP (0207) 3502200 Web-site: www. Macdonald. Mice and voles (1993) J. Allet.org The Mammal Society 2B.org.mammal. Dahlstrom. Oxford.Further information Cornwall Mammal Group c/o Cornwall Wildlife Trust Five Acres. web-site: www.

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