Up to now it has been a mild winter in London, but the sudden drop in temperature has encouraged house mice (Mus musculus) to seek the shelter of our warm basement. Movement in the corner of an eye in the late evening were the first indicators, prompting a trip through the hatch and down the stairs to set peanut butter and chocolate baited traps. Although they seem rather ‘cute’, house mice are very unhygienic and they can be destructive too as we have recently learned to our cost.
Seeing them though also reminded me of a species of mouse that I encountered in early Autumn at the home of wildlife photographer, Bob Brind-Surch. A mouse that was to me far more appealing, the Eurasian harvest mouse. Micromys minutus is Britain’s smallest mouse and the only old world mammal to have a prehensile tail which they use as a fifth limb for grasping, as can be seen clearly in the accompanying photos. Bob started keeping harvest mice when he needed to photograph them for a project and they are certainly a good test of a photographer’s reflexes and a camera’s autofocus as they scurry up and down the stalks of long grasses and other plants. On a sunny but blustery afternoon I took photos of them outside before moving in to the Summer house to shoot photos using artificial lights which allowed for faster shutter speeds and smaller apertures, always useful when shooting using a macro lens.
If you would like to meet and photograph harvest mice have a look at Bob’s website http://www.naturesphotos.co.uk for more details. I would however just repeat Bob’s warning on his workshop page – “photographing harvest mice is addictive.”