Over the summer we had visitors as I know so many of you will have done and they need entertaining!
One of our visitors was my 6-year-old grandson and one of the things I did to ‘entertain’ him was to set out a small mammal trap in various locations in the garden. It was quite successful and we caught quite a lot of small mammals. This is what the trap looks like.
These are humane traps, they do not kill what they catch. The scientific version is called a Longworth trap and you can buy them for about £50 a go and they are made of metal and work very well. You can also get plastic versions at about a third of the cost but these have the disadvantage that the mice will try to gnaw their way out and eventually after quite a while the trap becomes gnawed into an unusable state.
You can also buy what are called humane traps which are based on the same principle as the Longworth traps, ie the animal squeezes in but then cannot get back. These traps are on sale in the same places as ordinary mouse traps are for sale and they are for squeamish people who want to get rid of mice but without any blood or visible damage to the mouse. I say visible because if you catch a mouse in your house and then ‘kindly’ release it some distance away in the countryside, there is a good chance it will not survive and also a possibility that its nest of small baby mice will also perish, but at least no blood and gore…. so that’s fine.
One word of warning…… you might catch shrews and these little chaps are insectivores. It is said that they eat their own body weight in insects every day. Now if you set up a trap in the early evening and then check it the following morning and if a shrew got caught fairly soon after you set up the trap then it could have been in the trap for say 12 hours and this would be long enough for it to die. So we never left our traps set up for long periods of time. Also you need to put some bedding in the trap like straw or dried grass and some food, we put in wheatabix. I also put a bit of old wood on top of the trap so it was a bit darker inside and might make it less intimidating to a shy little creature.
We did catch shrews, they were probably the common shrew (Sorex araneus) or Eurasian shrew. There are several different species of shrew so you need careful identification to be certain. On one occasion we caught 3 in one go.
Mostly we caught the yellow-necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis), also called yellow-necked field mouse. These are different from House mice in several ways. They have big black eyes, they have larger ears and they are a golden brown colour not a grey brown like the House mouse. There is also a wood mouse but they are slightly smaller and do not have the golden-yellow colour around the neck which you can vaguely see in my photos.
We did not catch any voles this summer, but I have caught one several years ago. Voles have a short tail and a blunt nose, they are quite cute.
We set the trap up lots of times and in lots of places, it was a good thing to do and kept my grandson busy for some of the time, also the grown ups were quite interested as well. Finally my Grandson called them screws not shrews, that was fine by me.
To see other photos I have taken click Alamy Photos