St Kilda fieldmouse (Apodemus sylvaticus hirtensis)
This is the preserved skin and skull of an adult male St Kilda field mouse, Apodemus sylvaticus hirtensis.
Two kinds of mice used to occur on St Kilda (a group of islands 64 kilometres west of Harris in the Outer Hebrides). They were probably originally introduced accidentally to the islands by Norsemen. The St Kilda house mouse, which fed mainly on grain and other human commodities, became extinct shortly after people left the islands in 1930. The St Kilda field mouse is still present and is found on the islands of Hirta and Dun. It was never so dependent on people and so it did not die out like the house mouse. It feeds on snails, insects, moss and seeds, but will also feed on the carcasses of dead sheep, birds and any scraps dropped by visitors to the islands.
Due to the lack of natural predators, like many island races, both mice evolved to be larger than their mainland relatives.
This specimen was collected by a member of the museum’s staff, Iain McGowan, during a visit to St Kilda in June 1980.