Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Rodenthia
Family Muridae
Genus Micromys
Species minutus
Classification Pallas, 1771
Common name harvest mouse
Size 60 - 80 millimeters. Tail: 51 - 72 millimeters
Male weight 5 - 9 grams
Female weight 5 - 9 grams

Geographic Range it is found in Europe (with the exception of Ireland, Spain and Scandinavia), Northern Asia, China and Taiwan.
Physical Characteristics the body is uniformly yellow - brown, the lower part is whitish. It has short, hairy and round ears, quite small eyes and a round nose. The tail is almost naked, prehensile and it is as long as its body or even a little longer. It is characterized by season dimorphism: during summer its hair is short. Forepaws have 4 fingers, and back paws have 5; outer fingers are bigger and opposable in order to help the animal when climbing.
Behaviour it is a good climber and looks for food, especially at sunset and at sunrise, climbing up the stem of high grass and of hurdles with the help of its tail, even if that is just weakly prehensile. During the reproduction period it gives a cry that sounds like the call of a bird. It has acute hearing and readily reacts standing still or plunging in the water to hide when it hears rustle up to 7 metres far. However its sight isn't very sharp, it can only see shapes. It reaches sexual maturity 30-40 days after its birth and it can live up to 16-18 months. During winter it builds a lair among high grass or underground, and it doesn’t go into hibernation, but it survives feeding on the food it has stored. To help digestion of cellulose these animals have a big blind gut that contains a great deal of bacteria. When the food has been softened and partially digested in the stomach, it goes through the colon and the blind gut, and there the cellulose is resolved in digestible carbohydrates. However the absorption can take place only up in the intestine or in the stomach. That is why rodents ingest soft small balls of food digested by bacteria after having defecated them. The re-ingestion allows the system to be very efficient absorbing 80% of ingested energy.
Habitat it lives in grounds with high plants, most of all in wet environments near ponds and rivers and in fields of wheat.
Food habits it has high energy requirements because it is a warm-blooded animal and its surface is large compared to its volume, therefore it has a higher loss of heat. It feeds on seeds, berries, insects but it can also eat moss, roots and mushrooms.
Reproduction it builds spherical nests made of grass at least 30 centimeters high from the ground among high grass and up to 1 meter among beds of reeds. The lair has a 5-7 centimeters diameter and two side entrances; the nest has a 6-10 centimeters diameter and just one side entrance. The nest is built by the pregnant female, usually at night. She chops blades of grass from the stem with its incisors, sitting on another stem, sustaining herself with her back paws and her tail. Once she has gathered a big amount of leaves, they are woven together to form the external structure of the nest, that is then filled up with other blades of grass carried through the wall to hide the entrance. The nests are more visible during winter. Pregnancy lasts 21 days. In nature the female can have 2-3 litters a year, each of them made up of 2-6 young, between the end of May and October and sometimes even December if the weather is mild. The male is never allowed to enter the nest and during the first week after birth the female closes all entrances to the nest. When the young come to light they are blind and have no hair, they weigh 1 gram and are 2 centimeters long; they grow up very quickly and begin to explore the surrounding area of the nest starting from the 11th day, right after having opened their eyes. The young are weaned after 16 days and then leave the nest. A new nest is built for every litter.
Status in the lagoon in fish farms (Dogà, Grassabò, Cavallino, Perini, Contarina, Millecampi), in upper and middle lower Lagoon and in reclaimed areas (Casse di Colmata).

References Lehrstuhl für Tierökologie - Dipartimento di Ecologia Animale dell'Università di Monaco
The Mammal Society
Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology
Guida alla natura nella Laguna di Venezia - di Giampaolo Rallo - Franco Muzzio editore
Web References http://zoologie.forst.tu-muenchen.de/zoo_d.html
Source of the photo http://home2.pi.be/rv047190
Pawprint image source http://www.regione.emilia-romagna.it/parchi/fauna/toris.htm

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