THE WOOD MOUSE
Slightly larger than the House Mouse with a proportionally longer tail -on average the same length as the body. The Wood mouse has light brown fur with a distinctive pale belly and characteristic large ears and bulging eyes. Also known as the long-tailed field mouse.
Biology, Wood mice have similar life-cycle and nutritional needs to the House Mouse. Generally, the Wood mice are found outdoors, entering houses and outbuildings for shelter and food but nesting in the open for much of the time whereas the House Mouse, given sufficient resources, will more readily complete full generations without leaving the house or building that it’s living in. The Wood mouse is similar to another typically outdoor mouse, the yellow-neck mouse which can be distinguished by a band of yellowish fur around the neck.
As the Wood mouse is largely an outdoor pest, we would only advise control if the mice are entering buildings or causing damage. Control of the Wood mouse is the same as that of the House Mouse and a combination of traps and chronic (slow working) baits such as anticoagulants should be effective. Again proofing of gaps to deny entry should be considered to try to prevent or restrict infestations.
A large rodent which can measure up to 40cm in length (including the tail). Fur colour can vary but is generally dull grey in colour.
Biology, Rats are omnivorous and whilst they generally feed on cereals and grains, if hungry they can take small chicks and eggs. One of the main characteristics of Rats is that they are Neophobic - very wary of anything new and they can take 4-5 days before they except a new object into their environment. They prefer small-enclosed spaces and get around by smell & touch. They like to be up against something as they travel like a wall or pipe. Contrary to popular beliefs regarding Rats being dirty they are in fact very clean animals and spend up to 20% of their time grooming. They are however carriers of a number of diseases, the most publicised of which is Weils Disease which can be fatal to humans. Rats take between 2-3 months to reach sexual maturity and can have up to 7 litters per year with the average litter size being about 8. The other UK rat is the Ship Rat or Black Rat which is now very rare and restricted to a few localised port sites.
In contrast to mice, Rats tend to have only a few feeding sites and so the key to successful control is to ensure there is a good quantity of bait available (sub-lethal doses can affect the level of control which will be achieved longer-term). Whole grain bait is the most commonly used, and active ingredients such as Difenacoum and Bromadiolone can be used indoors and out. Rat burrows can be baited directly if safe to do so and trapping and use of gassing compounds such as Aluminium Phosphide (professionally trained operators only) can be considered.
Although now a familiar sight across much of the UK, the grey squirrel is non-native, having been first introduced from America in the late nineteenth century. It is largely blamed for the decline in populations of our native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) although, in truth, this also has as much to do with the disappearance of the red squirrels natural woodland habitat, as it does with the competition. The introduced species is larger than the red squirrel, with largely grey/brown fur, and a white belly.
Biology, grey squirrels are active during the day and are omnivorous, feeding on seeds, nuts, insects, bird eggs and increasingly adapting to match many of the foods that man may discard. Squirrels are well-known for their habit of hoarding food in autumn to see them through the harsh winter months Breeding takes place from December to February, and again in March to May. The gestation period is typically between 6 to 7 weeks and on average two litters are produced each year, consisting of 1-8 young. The average lifespan is 8-9 years.
This species is a serious pest in Britain. It is a threat to forestry land where its habit of removing tree bark is extremely damaging. In towns and cities, it can be a considerable pest by casing damage to structures and electrics in lofts etc. The most common and successful method of control is trapping, with either live trapping or spring trapping effectively. Always use traps in accordance with statutory guidelines and trapped animals must be disposed of humanely.