Wildlife | Small Mammals in Berkshire

Become a detective and learn how to tell which mammals inhabit your garden

The average British garden, it seems, is host to at least five different mammals - some to as many as 18. These surprising findings come from the first ever garden mammal survey, run jointly by the Mammal society and the People's trust for endangered species. The survey places the grey squirrel, hedgehog and fox in the top ten, followed by much less easily seen (mostly because they are nocturnal) mice and bats.

Less common garden visitors include our native, but now very rare, red squirrel, plus water animals such as water voles and otters. 

How do you know if you have such tiny mammals as bank voles or field mice sharing your garden in the shrubberies, grass bank or odd corner, or even your home? 

Here are a few things to look out for during the Summer:

  1. Keep an eye on any rosehips. If they remain on the bush, but have little holes gnawed in them and the kernel is extracted, mice or voles are the culprits. 
  2. Pick up any conifer cones that have been stripped of some, or all, of their scales. Squirrel stripped cones always have a frayed or ragged appearance; bank voles or wood mice leave the scales much more neatly bitten. search out cones hidden in long vegetation; squirrels feed out in the open.
  3. Look for any feathers scattered on your lawn. Birds of prey, such as Sparrowhawks, tend to pluck them cleanly from their victim. If they are chewed through at the quill end you may have stoats.
  4. If your summer bulbs are failing to produce flowers, look for any signs of soil disturbance and bits of discarded bulb. Voles are usually the culprits especially if planted around grassy borders.
  5. If you find any fruit on the ground. See if there are lots of very small tooth marks along the gnawed edge of the skin and little oblong depressions in the flesh. If so, you have mice or voles. Squirrel tooth marks are much larger.
  6. Look for any mammal hair snagged on wire fences. Straight grey hairs are probably those of badgers.
  7. Small holes in the ground and narrow runways no more than an inch or two wide among tall vegetation are tell tale signs of bank voles, or wood mice.

related links

visit The Mammal Society for details, shrews, otters, foxes, and voles.
Badger information, visit Binfield Badger Group
Bats information, visit The Bat Conservation Trust
wildberks Animal Homes - encourage small mammals, reptiles & invertebrates into your garden