|by Marcia Malory|
The wood mouse, or the long-tailed field mouse, can be found throughout Europe and in central Asia.
Wood mice are nocturnal (active at night). They have a sharp sense of smell and sense of hearing, but weak eyesight.
They are most commonly seen in forests, but can also be found in grasslands and in urban areas, were it may lurk in gardens, in graveyards and near railroad stations.
Wood mice have large burrows that follow features near the ground, such as fallen branches, tree roots and rocks.Burrows may have one or two nest chambers. Wood mice will spend most of the day in their nests and return to their nests many times in the night.
In forests, wood mice prefer living in areas where there is low vegetation.
The fur of the wood mouse is soft and smooth. The wood mouse's head and back are sandy or orange brown. The mouse has a white belly and yellow flanks. Its chest usually also has a small streak of yellow.
The wood mouse's eyes and ears are larger than that of a house mouse.
Its tail, which is almost as long as its body, is thinly covered with black hairs.
Short white hairs cover the tops of its feet. There are four toes on each front foot and five on each back foot. Each toe has a sharp, curved claw.
Although they do not hibernate, in cold weather they may temporarily enter a state of torpor in which their metabolism slows down.
Groups of wood mice may huddle together to keep warm.
Wood mice eat mostly seeds, often of oak, ash, hawthorn, beech, lime and sycamore.
When a large amount of seeds can be found on the ground, they bring them back to the nest, where they are stored.
The diet of the wood mouse also includes seedlings, buds, fruit, fungi, small insects and small snails.
Snails and insects are an important source of food in late spring and early summer, when fewer seeds are available but adult insects and their larvae are plentiful.
When they are in familiar areas, wood mice scurry along rapidly. When they are exploring, they move slowly and deliberately. They are capable climbers and are equally comfortable running along low branches as or on the ground.