March 30, 2016
Love or Game?
- as seen by -Denise McClean
The scientific name of the Eurasian harvest mouse screams tiny – Micromys minutus. Even if you didn’t know it was a mouse, you’d certainly know it was something very, very small. Their wide range from Great Britain to Japan hints at their adaptability. Loss of habitat? No problem for the harvest mice; they’ll just make a home in one of the many environments they’ve adopted. Bamboo stands, wetlands, cornfields are all home. I’ll bet they’d do well in a nicely planted window box.
In Great Britain, however, intensive farming practices were creating some problems for harvest mice. Not to fear. Conservationists from the land that gave us Beatrix Potter came up with a delightfully British solution. In 2001, tennis balls used at Wimbledon were recycled to use as predator-safe nests for harvest mice.
The use of tennis balls as artificial homes for harvest mice – said to be indicators of the health of fields in Great Britain – seems to have caught on in that country. In 2013, they were used again to bring back a mouse population devastated after a flood in England’s midlands.
Prospect Park Zoo’s exhibit of these tiny mice is refreshed regularly with dry grasses for them to weave their nests in front of the visitors. With no fear of predators and a regular supply of grasses, it appears we will not have to tap the U.S. Open for our mouse house.