Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bank Vole/ Rødmus

Myodes glareolus (formerly Clethrionomys glareolus)

There was a rattle in the dry leaves and a little mouse came up. It was so busy that it noticed nothing unusual in its surroundings. Down under the leaves, up again, down and up, maybe it was looking for its store from last autumn . It was the first days of March so maybe there were already little mouse pups under the leaves.

The bank vole is found in western Europe and northern Asia. It is native to Great Britain but not to Ireland, where it has been accidentally introduced.

The bank vole is common in most parts of Denmark, except at some islands, i.e. Bornholm. Bank voles are characterized by short legs, short tail and ears. From nose tip to root of tail it measures 8-14 cm, and it weighs 15-40 gram. It is red upon the top side while the fur underneath is white grey.

The bank vole mainly eats shoots, buds, leaves, seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, moss and fungis and sometimes insects and snails. It lives in woodland areas, hedgerows and thicket with grass and herb-vegetation. It is a good climber and is able to seek food often high up in trees and bushes, but it is also a good digger, and in autumn it gathers food in holes in the ground.

Both males and females defend a territory against same species, but a single male's territory can overlap the habitat of one or more females. The breeding season lasts usually from March till October, and in that period the bank vole can have up to five litters with each 3-5 young ones. The female is pregnant for ab. 3 weeks and while she nurses the young ones she can become pregnant again. The youngs are born in a nest of grass, moss and other plant-material which either are digged down in the upper soils or placed upon the ground.

Its natural enemies are stoat, weasel, fox, tawny owl, buzzard and viper.

photo Forsthaven, Århus March 2007: grethe bachmann

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