We feel it is important to learn more about the world around us in order to learn how we can better protect and preserve it. We recently connected with The Mammal Society and were keen to get involved in their “Searching for Shrews” project. We were invited to be the “pilot study” of a new project launched by The Mammal Society, which involves dissecting owl pellets and using the skulls and jaw bones to look for signs of the invasive Greater White-Toothed Shrew which may have made its way onto UK soil (recently discovered in Sunderland).
This project gave us the opportunity to become hands-on scientists by carefully dissecting owl pellets and recording our data. We accurately identified and recorded the species of rodents that we found in the owl pellets. Luckily, we didn’t find any skull or jaw bones once belonging to a GWTS, but we did identify a variety of species of mice, shrews and voles and used the information sheets provided by The Mammal Society to further identify the type of rodents we found.
In 20 pellets, we were able to identify:
42 voles (9 field voles, 33 bank voles)
31 shrews (16 common shrews, 9 pygmy shrews, 6 water shrews)
This information will be used by The Mammal Society to help gauge the population and distribution of different rodents around the UK. We also used this opportunity to learn more about identifying and naming different bones and comparing this to our own anatomy. As a group, we all donated £5 per pellet and were able to donate £100 total to The Mammal Society to help them continue with growing this project.
If other schools or groups are interested in getting involved in this project, please contact email@example.com.