Building a Breeding Nest
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Amanda Lloyd
The harvest mouse is the smallest British rodent. It's also the only British animal with a truly prehensile tail, being almost the same length as the head and body. They are extremely active climbers. When climbing down, they use their tail as a brake; when climbing upwards, the tail is used for balance. Female harvest mice are the only British mammal to build breeding nests (about 10cm in diameter) of woven grass well above the ground. They tend to be found at least 30cm above ground in dense vegetation such as grasses, rushes, brambles, cereals, etc. These nests are mainly made from grass leaves, but they may include leaves from other plants. Sometimes other materials are incorporated into the nest wall, such as feathers, heads of reeds and pieces of string. Also, there's no definite entrance to the nest. Building a breeding nest is a complex process. Building time depends on weather conditions: From three to four days in good weather, and up to seven days in rainy conditions.
This illustration was one of the 40 works selected by Il·lustraciència 2015 jury. Il·lustraciència, International Award on Scientific Illustration, sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT). This illustration will take part in the exhibition of the third edition of Il·lustraciència.
The new issue of NaturalMente, the online magazine of Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (The Natural History Museum of Madrid) features this illustration.