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Shrewth -- it's not a mouse at all

Madam -- I refer to Joe Kennedy's Country Matters column (September 16) in which he writes: "Irish country people have a soft spot for harvest mice..." This is an error in fact, as the harvest mouse is not native to Ireland!

I suspect a man of Joe's standing in the area of natural history would not make such a basic error, and that, perhaps, the error was in translation -- so to speak.

J Corcoran,

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Joe Kennedy writes: I stand corrected by reader J Corcoran for kindly pointing out that the harvest mouse (micromys minutus) is not found in Ireland. The tiny creatures remembered from childhood ramblings in cornfields and in abundance at grain threshings were wood mice and/or pygmy shrews (sorex minutus), our smallest mammal.

The shrew is also called a grass mouse (luch feir) and I still have a mark on my index finger where one gripped me -- and drew blood -- as I sought to capture it in a jam jar!

The tiny mice that cling to wheat stalks are British and, according to Dr Maurice Burton, "they do not occur in Ireland". More's the pity.

Sunday Independent