Monday, 30 June 2014

Harvest Mice

Harvest Mouse, Micromys minutus 

Firstly, thanks to all of you who came up to me over the weekend and said how much you are enjoying this new blog. It seems you are happy for lots of photos, and so with that in mind here is another plethora of pictures for your perusing pleasure!

Izzy found some fresh green corn in my old kennels last week, so I jumped on the chance of a bit of harvest mouse photography. I had something definite in mind... I won't say what, but I will say one of these got pretty close. Unfortunately the corn has now been tattered by the birds (yep, I didn't store it very well), but if I get the chance in the future, and get the shot I wanted, I will post it up.

Close up in the Corn

Harvest mice are great, and as I always tell people... even if you have an aversion to mice you can't help but think these little ones are adorable. They have the latin name Micromys  minutus, very apt for a mouse so small. Harvest mice weigh around the same amount as a two pence coin!

Harvest Mouse in the Corn

I took a few with a small bunch of the corn, and tried with a couple of mice at once too. It worked okay, but I preferred what I was getting with just one mouse... and although it is more obviously a set, preferred also the ones with a single stem of corn.

Placement of the Mouse

I had Tom on hand one evening, and Lucy one afternoon to help with the set up. It is possible for me to do it alone, and the way we do it minimises the risk of losing the mouse to negligible levels, but it is nicer and easier for me if I know I don't have to worry about keeping an eye on the mouse while setting up etc.

Harvest Mouse Washing

We always use more than one mouse which we can rotate if necessary, and at any signs of upset or discomfort on the mouses part we swap them... and if needs be call the shoot to an end. But when they just settle in and wash themselves as above, you know it will be a good shoot. This is one of my favourites of the first evening. Just a simple portrait.

Harvest Mouse on Corn

And I like this one showing of the prehensile tail so well...

Exploring the Corn

... as does this one too. They really make the use of this extra "limb" to the full.

Pole Dancing

While climbing up and down the stalk, when they suddenly turn to change direction they create some great shapes. It is almost as if they are pole dancing.

Pole Dancing

Great skills, and they do it with such ease.

Harvest Mouse Adaptations

Another of my favourites, showing off their adaptations. The tail once again, but also the feet. They have opposable thumbs on their hind feet that make it easier for them to grip on to the stalks.

Pole Dancing

And another showing the tail. The harvest mouse is the only mammal in Europe to have an prehensile tail. This means they can use it like an extra limb to grip on to things, they can even hang just from their tail and take their full weight if needed!

Harvest Mouse

Another of my favourites... yep, sorry, the fisheye was out again.

Below are a couple of old favourites...

About to Pop

A very old one above, showing a pregnant harvest mouse days... possibly even hours before giving birth. Being so small to start with, they really do blow up in size. This one had a particularly large litter and was almost the size of a golf ball!

Secret Keeper

Possibly still my favourite harvest mouse photo I have taken. The mouse is actually washing her face while delicately balancing between the stalks of corn, but it looks like she may be holding in a secret desperately trying to get out. This photo was commended in the BWPA 2012 (Collection 3).

Thanks for looking.


  1. Looking at these pictures makes me feel so happy. They brightened my day. Thank you. You are awesome!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, I haven't taken too many photos lately... but hopefully that will change over the coming months.

  2. Great capture! Well done: your harvest mice are wonderful.