Yellow-necked mice were discovered in Cheshire fairly recently, during dormouse box checks at a woodland in the far south of the county. Could they be spreading into Cheshire? This species was only recognised in 1894 and since then has been recorded only in southern counties as far north as Staffordshire.
The photo below (from the Mammal Society) shows how the yellow-necked mouse is different from your basic wood mouse:The yellow chest band is pretty important – wood mice may have a splodge of colour there but never an unbroken band across the chest. Basically, if you’re not sure whether it’s a yellow-necked mouse, it isn’t a yellow-necked mouse. They also have a reputation for being bigger, bouncier and generally narkier than wood mice!
After the discovery of yellow-necked mice in Cheshire, Cheshire Mammal Group resolved to investigate and have since undertaken small mammal trapping at several sites each winter in an effort to find more populations of this species. This effort has paid off, with a second site found near Cholmondeley last year.
This winter, the target sites were Beeston Castle woodland and woodland owned by the National Trust at Bickerton. We gathered small mammal traps from a variety of sources and ended up with over 200 – not as many as hoped as we wanted to put out over 300 traps – but it would have to do. There was one night trapping at each site and conditions were ideal.
No yellow-necked mice were found – this time – but we did record wood mice, bank vole, field vole, pygmy shrew and common shrew so that can’t be bad 🙂