• Water shrew- slightly larger than common shrew and very dark in colour (almost black)

  • Mole- Larger than shrews with much smaller eyes and large, clawed forelimbs

Prey Species ID

Here, you'll find handy tips to help you identify 'what the cat dragged in'

Mammals

Cats commonly bring more small mammals home than they do birds. This is thought to be because mammals are generally much easier to catch.

We can group small mammals into three main categories: mice (& rats), voles, and shrews. Although there are some exceptions, key features to look out for are:

Remember:

If possible, please take photos of all returned prey

Wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)

Also known as the field mouse

  • Head and body length: 6-10cm

  • Tail length: 7-9.5cm

  • Colouration can vary, but is commonly more golden than the house mouse

  • Often has a darker stripe running along its back

  • Pale underbelly, occasionally having a small yellow patch on the chest

  • Larger ears and eyes than the house mouse (relative to body size)

Image: Hanna Knutsson

 

Yellow-necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis)

Often confused with the wood mouse

  • Head and body length: 9-12cm

  • Tail length: 8-11cm

  • Golden in colour, very similar to the wood mouse

  • Whiter underbelly than the wood mouse, with an unbroken band of yellow across the chest

  • Ears and eyes are larger than those of the wood mouse (relative to body size)

  • Can be found towards the south of England, the West Midlands and eastern parts of Wales

Image: Gareth Christian

Harvest mouse (Mycromys minutus)

  • Head and body length: 5-8cm

  • Tail length: 5-8cm

  • Arond the size of a human thumb

  • Mid to light brown/golden in colour, similar to the wood mouse

  • Pale underbelly

  • Ears are furry and pinned back. Also ears are relatively smaller than those of other mice

  • Muzzle is not as pointed as other mice

Image: Chris Parker

 

Bank vole

or field vole?

Check the tail...

Bank voles have longer tails (two thirds body length) than field voles (half body length)

Mammals: mice & rats

Mammals: voles

Mammals: shrews

Did you know?

Shrews aren't rodents, unlike mice and voles.

Instead, shrews are

more closely related to moles and hedgehogs, eating small invertebrates

House mouse (Mus musculus)

  • Head and body length: 6-10cm

  • Tail length: 6-10cm

  • Dusty brown/ grey colour, with a pale underbelly

  • Smaller ears and eyes than the wood mouse (relative to body size)

  • Muzzle is quite pointed

Image: Duncan Hull

Image: Hanna Knutsson

Bank vole (Myodes glareolus)

  • Head and body length: 8-12cm

  • Tail length: 3.3-4.8cm

  • Tail is around two thirds the length of the body

  • Smaller eyes, ears and tail than a mouse

  • Stocky build

  • Similar in appearance to the harvest mouse

  • Can be dusty brown/ grey, but typically more of a chestnut brown colour

  • Pale grey underbelly

  • Muzzle is blunt, unlike mice

Image: Rudmer Zwerver

Field vole (Microtus agrestis)

  • Head and body length: 9-11cm

  • Tail length: 2-5cm

  • Tail is around half the length of the body

  • Smaller eyes, ears and tail than a mouse

  • Stocky build

  • Small, furry ears (furrier than the bank vole)

  • Brown or dusty brown/ grey

  • Pale grey underbelly

  • Muzzle is blunt, unlike mice

Image: Hanna Knutsson

Common shrew (sorex araneus)

  • Head and body length: 5.5-8.5cm

  • Tail length: 3-5.5cm

  • Small ears, tucked back against head

  • Tail is around half the length of the head & body

  • Dark brown in colour, with light brown flanks and a pale grey/white underbelly

  • Very small eyes

  • Elongated snout

Image: Philip Hay

Pygmy shrew (sorex minutus)

  • Head and body length: 4-6.5cm

  • Tail length: 3-4.5cm

  • Smaller than the common shrew

  • Very small eyes

  • Elongated snout

  • Small ears, tucked back against head

  • Dark brown in colour, with a pale grey/white underbelly

  • Tail is longer than that of the common shrew, relative to body size (around 65-80% the length of the head & body)

Image: Jean-Jaques Bujot

Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus)

  • Head and body length: 21-29cm

  • Tail length: 17-23cm

  • Similar in appearance to the house mouse ... but around 3x bigger!

  • Dusty brown/ grey colour, with a pale underbelly

  • Quite large ears and eyes

  • Muzzle is pointed

What else could it be?

What else could it be?

  • Water vole- Much larger than the other voles, similar in size to the brown rat

What else could it be?

  • Hazel dormouse- Similar size to the smaller mouse species, with a slightly bushy tail and orange coloured fur

  • Prominant ears

  • Long tail

  • Large eyes

  • Pointed muzzle

  • Small ears

  • Tiny eyes

  • Long snout

  • Short fur

  • Small, pinned back ears

  • Short tail

  • Blunt muzzle

  • Stocky body

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