Ingenious animal welfare officers have served up an ace temporary home to two rescued harvest mice – an old tennis ball!
Staff at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre came up with the idea after the mice were saved from the claws of a local feline.
The Taunton animal centre’s video captures the very rare, tiny harvest mice loving their new home. Each mouse weighs less than 6g, just the tenth of the weight of a tennis ball, and is only 5cm long.
The pair have been nicknamed Andy and Dan after British tennis players Andy Murray and Dave Evans, both recently knocked out of the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Emily Atkinson, from RSPCA West Hatch, said: “The first little mouse came into us on 28 December after a cat belonging to one of our staff members brought it home.
“She popped him in the airing cupboard overnight and brought him into work the next day where he was put on antibiotics.
“Then, on 7 January, the cat brought in another so he is also with us now!
“Both mice are now doing well and, once the weather gets a little warmer, will be ready for release.”
“We’ve managed to find the nest these mice originally came from so once it gets a bit warmer we’ll pop the tennis ball next to their old nest so they can make their own way back home,” Emily said.
The population of harvest mice is thought to be declining in England and it’s rare to see them in the wild. They are currently classified as a Priority Species under the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan – among those identified as being the most threatened and requiring conservation action. The RSPCA has seen just nine come into its wildlife centres for treatment and care since 2009.
West Hatch is one of four RSPCA wildlife centres in England and has facilities to care for all wild animals from those as tiny as the harvest mouse, to hedgehogs, beautiful birds and bats, to seals who get washed up in storms.
It costs more than £3,000 a day to run the centre. To help support its work, you can visit the RSPCA website for ways to donate. Or to buy something useful for the animals at West Hatch, visit the centre’s Amazon wish list.
Alternatively, to donate to the RSPCA, you can text HELP to 78866 to give £3. Texts cost £3 plus one standard network rate message.