“There have only been about a half dozen genuinely important events in the four-billion-year saga of life on Earth: single-celled life, multicelled life, differentiation into plants and animals, movement of animals from water to land, and the advent of mammals and consciousness” – Elon Musk
First of all, Many apologies for being rather distant in my posts- and I was doing so well! Unfortunately, I have got rather out of the habit of doing any writing, so it just fell to the wayside. But I am back. Hello!
A couple of weeks ago, I went on a Small Mammal Trapping course. Not only did this teach me how to identify all of Britain’s land mammals, it taught me how to safely trap, handle and identify small mammals such as shrews, voles and mice.
I had such a lovely lovely LOVELY weekend.
The course took place at the FSC centre at Juniper Hall near Dorking. It is a lovely spot, right at the base of Box Hill, and is a place of woodland and chalk grassland, so perfect habitat for all sorts of beasties.
The course was a mixture of classroom and practical sessions so that we can put our theory into practice. The classroom sessions involved learning the law in relation to wild animals and protected species in particular, identification techniques, and trapping methods. These were great, and really helped us when we did field sessions.
First field session, was learning how to assemble a Longworth trap, bait the traps and then set them safely – especially with regards to putting enough food and moisture in the trap, as some small mammals like shrews get incredibly dehydrated, and will often die in traps if enough attention isn’t paid.
We then set the traps and left them overnight, whilst we slept and emptied them first thing in the morning. Unfortunately – with Corvids being as clever as they are, the majority of our traps had been found and broken open by crows. Hopefully there was nothing in there! We did find one successful trap which contained a lovely bank vole.
These little critters are the most docile of the small mammals, and will often sit on your hand! We processed him, by weighing him and figuring out if he was a boy or a girl, and then released him where he was found.
The next few field session were very similar, in that we would set the traps and then leave them for 6-12 hours (which is the maximum length of time you can leave a small mammal trap without checking it), and empty what we found.
We found voles, shrews and mice! They really are beautiful little animals, especially up close. I had the pleasure of learning how to scruff and handle a woodmouse.
It was just a fantastic weekend, I had a lot of fun, gained a shrew license and a new set of skills!