Wednesday, 16 June 2010
OUR FIRST HARVEST MICE LITTERS!
As regular followers of our Blog may remember we introduced Harvest Mice as a new exhibit in early May this year. We built 2 enclosures and placed one pair into each. Having provided them with surroundings that we hoped they would find beautiful and as natural as possible we looked forward to the first signs of breeding activity.
Well, it seems our home-design skills have been appreciated - both pairs have produced their first litters within a day or two of each other! The first were sighted yesterday in the left enclosure and then low and behold more scampering and foraging of these tiny creatures was identified this morning!
Our Harvest Mice built their nests from hay inside the nesting boxes we provided for them. The baby mice were born pink after a gestation of between 18 - 21 days. They ventured out of the nest to start exploring at approximately 10 -12 days of age. Once the youngsters are approximately 8 weeks old they'll be fully weaned and independent. it's at that point that we'll move them into a 'nursery enclosure' where they'll stay for 3 - 4 weeks before being housed into same-sex groups in order for us to control indiscriminate breeding.
Our longer-term plan:
Once we have a good stock of Harvest Mice we would ideally like to liaise with some of the mammalian experts at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Trust and at Chester Zoo to discuss the viability of a release programme either locally on the Island (where they are now apparently extinct) or further afield on the mainland.
Jules Brittan - General Manager