Save Scottish red squirrels

This video is about two red squirrels feeding on walnuts.

From Wildlife Extra:

Major push to save Scottish Red Squirrels from extinction

Five charitable, government and landowning bodies in Scotland have united in a bid to secure the future of the iconic Red Squirrel.

It is the UK’s only native squirrel and numbers have declined rapidly since the introduction of Grey Squirrels from North America in the 19th century.

Since 1952, 95 per cent of Reds in England and Wales have been wiped out, and today 75 per cent of the UK’s remaining population is found in Scotland.

However, Greys still threaten the existence of the native Reds because they transmit the deadly squirrelpox virus, although they are largely immune.

The project aims to continue to prevent the spread northwards of Grey Squirrels and squirrelpox via a programme of squirrel control in a zone running coast to coast along the Highland Boundary Fault.

It will also define and map priority areas for Red Squirrel conservation in south Scotland, and co-ordinate the control required of the Greys to sustain a healthy red population.

Dr Aileen McLeod, Scottish Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, says: “Scotland has adopted a pioneering approach to protecting our Red Squirrel population, which involves a number of organisations working together.

“The number of Red Squirrels in Scotland is increasing and they are now returning to their former habitats.

“This has been most notably in the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire, and the north-east of Scotland where people are once again seeing Red Squirrels visiting the bird feeders in their gardens.

“It is due to the great work being carried out by various stakeholders, such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust through the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel’s project, landowners, Forestry Commission Scotland, and volunteers who have been undertaking targeted control of Grey Squirrels.

“I am also delighted that RSPB Scotland is now involved in Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels, and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the project, which will benefit Red Squirrel conservation in Scotland.”

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, says: “We are in the privileged position of owning and managing more than 80 nature reserves across Scotland, and we already posses a huge responsibility for delivering on the conservation of our native Red Squirrels.

“We have been very impressed with the work of the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project, as it represents what we believe is the very best chance of preventing the extinction of this species on the British mainland.

“We are really pleased not only to be joining forces with the member organisations to help contribute to this important work, but also to commit hard-won charitable funds to this excellent project. We are looking forward to a very productive and constructive partnership.”

Project Manager for Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels, Mel Tonkin, says: “Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels has already been successful in beginning to reverse the downward trend for Red Squirrels in Scotland, but our work will need to continue for many years to really secure the future of the species.

“We are therefore delighted with this new partnership with RSPB Scotland. The RSPB has plenty of experience in the challenges of long-term species conservation and brings with it the opportunity to get a lot more people engaged in Red Squirrel conservation.”

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is a partnership project between the Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust.

Mice and shrews research in the Netherlands

This video, recorded in North America, says about itself:

The northern [short-tailed] shrew in the BBC’S Life of Mammals series. In this clip, a male hunts for food, wrestles with another male to establish dominance, and mates with a female. The female raises her offspring and leads them around the forest.

Today, the Dutch Mammal Society reports on research about mice and shrews in the Netherlands.

The research is based on small mammals’ remains in over 200,000 owl pellets.

They write (translated):

For 11 of the 17 ‘mice’ [and shrew] species is has now been scientifically established, based on owl pellets, where the species occur in the Netherlands and whether they are increasing or decreasing. Two species, the greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) and the bank vole have improved since 1995. The other 9 kinds of ‘mice’ are more or less stable in their distribution. For the other species there should be further research, so onward to the next 200,000 owl pellets!

The complete report is here.

Grey heron and coypu, video

6:30, early in the morning. A river in the Netherlands, with a grey heron and a coypu.

Walter Debloudts made this video.

Mouse feeding, video

On 17 May 2015, this hungry mouse fed on lungwort buds.

Roel Nijboer, from Driebergen in the Netherlands, made this video.

Rats prefer saving drowning fellow rats to chocolate

This video from England is called Brown Rats at Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire – 15th November 2014.

This video from Japan says about itself:

Rat Saves Its Soaked Cage Mate

13 May 2015

A rat helps its cage mate escape from a distressing room filled with water. (Credit: Sato, N. et. al./Springer)

From Wildlife Extra:

Rats will help to save fellow rats in trouble

Far from deserting a sinking ship, rats will help save a mate from possible drowning

Researchers have found that rats are more altruistic than previously thought and will save other members of their species even if doing so is not particularly to its advantage.

For example, if one rat is in danger of drowning, another will extend a helping paw to rescue it. This seemed to be especially true for rats that had experience of a similar dangerous situation themselves, says Nobuya Sato and colleagues of the Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan, published in Springer’s journal Animal Cognition.

Sato’s team conducted three sets of experiments involving a pool of water. Rats dislike being soaked but one swimming in the pool could only gain access to a dry and safe area in the cage if its cagemate opened a door for it.

The team found that rats quickly learned that to help their fellow rat they had to open the door, and they only opened the door when there was actually a distressed cagemate nearby who needed to be saved.

The experiments also showed that those rats which had a previous experience of being immersed in water were much quicker at learning how to save a cagemate than those who had not been immersed.

The researchers also watched what happened when rats had to choose between opening the door to help their distressed cagemate or accessing a different door to obtain a chocolate treat for themselves.

In most cases, rats chose to help their cagemate before going for the food. According to Sato this suggests that, for a rat, the relative value of helping others is of greater benefit than a food reward.

The results indicate that rats show empathy and can share in the emotional state of members of their own species.

“Our findings suggest that rats can behave prosocially and that helper rats may be motivated by empathy-like feelings towards their distressed cagemate,” says Sato, who believes that studies of sociality, such as empathy in rodents, are important for understanding the underlying neural basis of prosocial behavior as well as evolutionary aspects.

See also here.

Water vole news from Britain

This is a water vole video from Britain (featuring a mallard).

From Wildlife Articles in Britain:

Efforts to Increase UK Water Vole Numbers Prove Successful.

by Laura Coyle

May 13, 2015

With numbers as low as 220,000 in 2004, it is thought that the UK’s water vole population has plummeted by more than 90% since the 1960s.

The cause of this decline is largely due to American mink – water voles’ biggest predators. In 1929, American mink were brought to the UK for fur farming but subsequently escaped into the wild resulting in the water vole now being nationally-protected mammal and one of the UKs fastest declining mammals.

Efforts have been made to help stop the decline with traps being issued to farmers and landowners in East Yorkshire to help to reduce the amount of escaped minks and boost water vole populations.

So far, the traps have proven successful with reports showing that traps in Tophill Low Nature Reserve, near Driffield, had caught 4 mink in 1 month, a substantial increase in comparison to the previously reported 1 every 6 months.

The Canal & River Trust, in 2014, planned to “create vole-friendly soft banking and a reed bed on the Essex and Hertfordshire border”, along the River Stort. The hope for this new habitat was that it would give the voles a place to burrow and hide from predators such as mink.

In 2014, it was reported that, for the first time in 20 years, water voles were recorded in the Scottish Highlands. The voles were spotted at RSPB Scotland’s Insh Marsh reserve in Badenoch and Strathspey.

This re-introduction in Scotland is thought to be due to the Scottish Mink Initiative who, since 2011, has eradicated mink from Northern Scotland, including the Cairngorms National Park and Insh Marshes which has subsequently allowed water voles to re-establish themselves.

Hedgehog and mouse, video

This video is about a mouse, trying to join a young hedgehog at eating.

Mrs. A.Sanders from the Netherlands made this video.