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Vole Patrol - Searching for London's smallest mammals

Vole Patrol Pygmy Shrew (Credit Phil Winter)Vole Patrol Pygmy Shrew (Credit Phil Winter)

Investigating how small mammals such as mice, shrew and vole are faring in west London

As well as recruiting a project officer and training 25 volunteers to monitor species of small mammals across eight sites, four of which are London Wildlife Trust nature reserves, we will also be putting on special events in Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing to tell local people more about these elusive but important animals.

The Vole Patrol project finished surveying for small mammals in 2017. We are currently analysing the results and will publish the results in autumn 2017.  Our thanks to the many volunteers who helped support the project, and to Heritage Lottery Fund for funding this groundbreaking work.  

Anecdotal evidence suggests these tiny, largely nocturnal creatures may be in decline in their woodland habitats, which in turn could have serious knock-on effects for predator species such as stoat, weasel, owls and other birds of prey.

The Trust has recruited a new project officer and will be training 25 volunteers in specialist monitoring techniques to help us survey populations of wood mouse, yellow-necked mouse, common shrew, pygmy shrew and bank vole at eight woodland habitats in west London. 

None of these small mammals are currently listed as conservation priorities, although shrews are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act, and there is little evidence on how they are faring in London. We suspect that urban development is putting increasing pressure on their habitats, and other factors, such as predation from domestic pets, may also be impacting on their survival.

These mammals are rarely spotted and are potentially at risk of being overlooked by those who look after woodland sites. Food availability (seeds and fruits for the mice and bank vole, invertebrates for the shrews) is crucial to their lives and they can also be susceptible to bad weather.

Our thanks go to the Heritage Lottery Fund, who provided the funding to set up this survey. If you would be interested in volunteering with this project and surveying sites in Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing, please contact Huma Pearce on or 07540 783 609.



Vole Patrol Yellow necked-mouse



The yellow-necked mouse is slightly larger than wood mouse. These expert climbers are at home in established woodland. 


Vole Patrol  Wood MouseVole Patrol Bank VoleVole Patrol Common Shrew





The wood mouse, our most common rodent, is an inhabitant mainly of woodland and fields. (left)

The bank vole is the smallest of Britain’s voles, with a characteristic chestnut coat and cream/grey belly.(centre)

The common shrew is smaller than the bank vole and is a highly active insectivore. Like most small mammals it has a very short life expectancy (less than a year). (right)


Vole Patrol Pygmy Shrew

The pygmy shrew is active by day and night and is very territorial. Their high pitched squeaks can sometimes be heard when they are fighting. 

More information on Vole Patrol

For more information on Vole Patrol please contact Huma Pearce on or 07540 783 609.

Vole Patrol will survey for small mammals at the following sites:

  • Gunnersbury Triangle / Ealing/Hounslow
  • Denham Lock Wood / Hillingdon
  • Gutteridge Wood / Hillingdon
  • Ten Acre Wood / Hillingdon
  • Ruislip Woods / Hillingdon
  • Perivale Wood / Ealing
  • Tentelow Wood / Ealing
  • Long Wood / Ealing

About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF): Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery

London Wildlife Trust   Heriitage Lottery Fund




Image Credit to all photos: Phil Winter and Margaret Holland