Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Rodentia / Muridae / Apodemus / Species
Apodemus sylvaticus - Wood mouse (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Field mouse
  • Long-tailed field mouse
  • Llygoden y maes (Welsh)
  • Luch fheoir (Scottish Gaelic)
  • Luch fheir (Irish Gaelic)
  • Mulot sylvestre (French)
  • Waldmaus (German)

Alternative species names (the second part of the binomial species names): [Genus] albus; [Genus] algirus; [Genus] alpinus; [Genus] bergensis; [Genus] butei; [Genus] callipides; [Genus] candidus;  [Genus] celticus; [Genus] chamaeropsis; [Genus] clanceyi; [Genus] creticus; [Genus] cumbrae; [Genus] dichruroides; [Genus] eivissensis; [Genus] fiolagan; [Genus] flaviventris; [Genus] flavobrunneus; [Genus] fridariensis; [Genus] frumentariae; [Genus] ghia; [Genus] grandiculus; [Genus] granti; [Genus] hamiltoni;  [Genus] hayi; [Genus] hebridensis; [Genus] hermani; [Genus] hessei; [Genus] hirtensis; [Genus] iconicus; [Genus] ifranensis;  [Genus] ilvanus; [Genus] intermedius; [Genus] isbellinus; [Genus] islandicus; [Genus] kilikiae; [Genus] krkensis; [Genus] larus;  [Genus] leucocephalus; [Genus] maclean; [Genus] maximus; [Genus] milleri; [Genus] nesticus; [Genus] niger; [Genus] parvus; [Genus] pecchioli; [Genus] rufescens; [Genus] spadix; [Genus] stankovici; [Genus] tauricus; [Genus] thuleo; [Genus] tirae; [Genus] tural; [Genus] varius (B141).

Names for new-borns / juveniles

Names for males  
Names for females  

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General Appearance

Typical mouse with pointed muzzle, large protruding eyes, large rounded ears and long tail. Yellow-brown back, pale grey underside, variable yellow spot or patch between the forelegs (B142, D30).

Similar Species

  • Differentiated from voles by long tail, pointed muzzle, large eyes and ears.
  • Differentiated from shrews by less pointed muzzle, large eyes and ears, longer tail.
  • Differentiated from Mus musculus - House mouse by fur colour (yellow-brown rather than grey). Juveniles differentiated by larger eyes and ears and larger hind feet.
  • Differentiated from Micromys minutus - Harvest mouse by larger size, larger eyes and ears, more pointed muzzle.
  • Differentiated from Apodemus flavicollis - Yellow-necked mouse because yellow on chest, if present, does not meet brown fur on back.

(B142, D30).

Sexual Dimorphism --

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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

Husbandry references:

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Mice (Rodents)

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • Mice (Rodents)

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Husbandry Information


Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

  • Head-body length: 81-103mm (D30).
  • Male 86-103mm mean 93.6mm (B142); female: 81-103mm mean 91.0mm (B142).


Height --
Adult weight General --
Male 13 to 27g mean 19.1g (B142).
Female 13 to 24g mean 17.8g (B142)
New-born weight 1-2g (B142); 2.5g (B147).
Growth rate --

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General --

Skull: Condylobasilar length male 22.424.9mm mean 23.4mm, female 21.5-24.2mm mean 23.1mm (B142).

Nose: muzzle pointed

Ears: large, rounded

(B142, D30)

Dentition (Teeth) Usually four (rarely five) roots on first upper molar (B142).
Eyes --

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Legs and Tracks

  • Four toes on forefoot, five on hind foot (B142). 
  • Hindfoot length: male 20.8-23.0mm mean 22.0mm, female 20.2-22.8mm mean 21.6mm (B142).

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  • Very long - similar to head-body length. 
  • Tail length: male 74-95mm mean 83.2mm (B142), female 71-93mm mean 82.0mm (B142).
  • Moderately haired, darker dorsal than ventral surface.

(B142, B147, D30).

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Coat / Pelage

Adult Female
  • Dorsal rich dark brown shading to flanks yellow-brown.
  • Ventral grey-white

(B142, D30)

Variations (If present)
  • Chest spot: yellow, variable extent, from very small to general ventral, but does not reach up to meet dorsal fur (B142, D30).
  • Post-juvenile moult: 5-7 weeks, ventral to dorsal.
  • Patchy moult in adults, usually no seasonality.


New-born / Juvenile --

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Neonate (New-born) Characteristics

Blind, naked and helpless (B142, B147).

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Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

  • Reproductive: Four pairs of nipples (B142). Reproductive tract regresses in winter (non-breeding) season (B142).
  • Scent glands: subcaudal sebaceous glands near base of tail, large in males. Also corners of mouth, and in anus (B142).

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Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Reproductive Stages

Breeding Season
  • Central Europe, Mediterranean mountains: early spring to late autumn (B147).
  • Britain: February/March to October/November; sporadic winter breeding (B142).
  • Mediterranean coasts and islands: breed in winter (B147).
Oestrus / Ovulation May occur throughout breeding season. Oestrus cycle 4-6 days (B142).
Gestation / Pregnancy
  • 19-20 days.
  • Delayed implantation lengthens total gestation when lactating.


23 days (B147).

Parturition / Birth --
Neonatal development
  • Birth: naked, blind.
  • About 6 days: grey-brown dorsal juvenile coat, then ventral fur appears.
  • About 13 days: incisors erupt;
  • About 14 days: hind feet darken
  • About 16 days: 16 days eyes open.

Slower development for autumn born than spring-born young.


  • 13 days: eyes open
  • 3 weeks: weaned
  • (B147).
Litter size
  • 2-11, mean 4.5-6.5 (B142).
Time between Litters / Litters per year
  • Mainly 1-2 litters per female; up to 6 recorded (B142).
Lactation / Milk Production
Sexual Maturity
  • Males: within 28 days of weaning; females: spring following birth (B142)
  • Two months old (B147)
  • Usually less than one year (B142).

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Natural Diet

  • Seeds, green plants, fruits, fungi,invertebrates (e.g. caterpillars, centipedes, various arthropods and their larvae, worms.
  • Exceptionally, vertebrates such as frogs.


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Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Temperature --
Pulse --
Respiration --
Faeces Usually 3-5mm (B142).
Haematology / Biochemistry --
Chromosomes 2n = 48 (B142).
Other --

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Feeding Behaviour

  • Opportunistic.
  • Cache food.


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Parental Behaviour


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Social Behaviour / Territoriality

  • Communal nesting in winter, both sexes.
  • Some indications of pair bonds at start of breeding season
  • Probably hierarchy of males.
  • Home ranges of males overlap.
  • Females maintain exclusive areas in breeding season.
  • Females do not allow males into nest when young present
  • Dispersal of adults rather than juveniles
  • Males disperse throughout year.
  • Female disperse autumn and winter in particular.
  • Males seasonally aggressive (in breeding season)
  • Females apparently rarely aggressive in field: aggression during lactation seen in laboratory.

(B142, B147)

Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

  • Indication of pair bonds in some studies. Lack of such indications in other studies: promiscuous or polygynous system presumed (B142).

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Predation in Wild

  • Mammals: Fox, weasel, stoat, badger, marten, domestic cat.
  • Birds: long-eared owl, tawny owl, short-eared owl, barn owl, little owl, kestrel.
  • (B142).

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Activity Patterns

  • Walk and leap.
  • Arboreal as well as ground level activity.
  • Lethargic in very cold conditions.
  • Torpor seen with food deprivation followed by cold temperatures.


  • Mainly nocturnal.
  • Start of activity correlates with sunset.
  • Single activity peak on short nights, two peaks on long nights.
  • Less active in moonlight
  • Less active when cold and wet, and when temperature less than 3C.
  • Females may be seen midday in summer.

(B142, B226)

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Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

Wide variety of habitats.
  • Woodland, plantations, arable land, grassland, riparian land, heather, blanket bog, sand dunes, dry stone walls, hedges, gardens, urban areas where vegetation.
  • Dense cover in woodland may be preferred.
  • Rarely above tree line unless stone walls/buildings for cover.
  • Woodland edge in eastern part of range.
  • Steppes in extreme east of range.

(B142, B143)

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Nests / Burrows / Shelters

  • Usually below ground.
  • Under roots of trees or shrubs.
  • Occasionally in tree holes, buildings, nest boxes supplied for birds.
  • Construction: leaves, moss, grass.
  • Increased depth and increased weight and volume of leaves in nest as temperature decreases.


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Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Europe, Asia Minor, north-western Africa (B143, B147); Europe to Altai, Himalayas, also northern Africa (B51).
  • Western Palearctic: from Iberian peninsula eastwards into western Russia (Belarus and western Ukraine (B147). North to Iceland, southern Norway, Sweden. Wooded and steppe zones, not coniferous zone. South to Mediterranean, including islands: Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Crete.
  • Britain and Ireland: widespread except open mountainous areas. Widespread on most small islands. Absent from very small islands: Lundy, Isle of May, North Rona, Scilly Isles (except Tresco, St Mary's). Recorded at 1000m in south-west Ireland and 1,300m in Cairngorms.

(B51, B142, B143, B147)

Occasional and Accidental --


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Intraspecific variation

Large number of subspecies described, particularly larger forms on islands. Subspecific status uncertain (B142).

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
  • Common - widespread and abundant (B142, B143).

  • In Britain: native, widespread, very common. Pre-breeding population estimate of about 38,000,000, with 19,500,000 in England, 15,000,000 in Scotland, 3,500,000 in Wales. Population estimate of this widely-distributed species was based on a limited amount of data and considered likely to be inaccurate by up to 50% in either direction (B221).

General Legislation --
CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats On arable land threatened by insecticidal seed treatments, also herbicidal sprays, methiocarb molluscide pellets (B221).
Captive Populations --
Trade --

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