A little about the mammals found on the farm…

Pipistrelles are common here and are often inside the houses. This year we found two babies abandoned on the kitchen floor. One was tiny, no bigger than a hazelnut, and it died, but the staff hand-reared the other one until it could fly. Fly papers are very dangerous for these bats which easily get stuck on them. Pipistrelles have adopted the log cabin for a roost, and Megan’s Barn which is oak lapboard.

Occasionally we see a bigger bat hawking along the hedgerows. It is easy to think it is a snipe, but we think they are Greater Horse-shoe bats. We haven’t seen any for about 5 years.

We may have dormice on the farm in the old hazel hedgerows at Cwmduhen and along the river. We have put up a few nest boxes and leave the hazels to grow nuts and form a linked canopy. We plant quite a lot of hazels on the farm both in the hedges and in the woods.

There used to be Water Voles along the river and you can still see their holes. But the mink cleaned them out. In 2014 we put out some more Water Voles on the lake and set mink traps. We haven’t caught any mink, only a polecat (released alive), and the voles have survived, tracking up the stream and using the beaver ponds. To watch they look like mini-beavers but they swim higher in the water. Sometimes at the log cabin you can watch them from less than two metres away, eating the reeds.

Water shrews. These little animals are hyperactive and hardly stay still long enough to focus field-glasses on them. We see them sometimes when we are watching beavers.

We have three pairs of beavers on the farm at the moment. We have been studying them for two years and have applied to the Welsh Government to re-introduce them.

Red squirrels are doing well on Anglesey and there are still some in mid-Wales. We have a few captive pairs for a re-introduction project and are learning about them. They cannot be introduced into the range of the non-native grey squirrel. These are a common pest on the farm and we shoot or trap them whenever we can. They are very damaging to the trees, especially the oaks and beeches. Even a 20 year old tree can be quickly stripped and killed by them.

Otters hunt our river and the streams and will cross anywhere on the farm, so occasionally they are killed on the road. Although lovely to watch they are heavy on the trout and have cleared out the lake. One year during silage making, some herring gulls had come inland and were having a wash on the lake. An otter came up underneath one and pulled it under water. It emerged at the dam with it and took it into the gulley to eat. No more skinny dipping for me….

Polecats. These are widespread in west Wales, but not common. They do not swim or climb like a mink, but they are quite deadly on wildlife, especially rabbits. We tend not to see them but catch them occasionally in cage traps set for mink. Stoats and weasels are also very rare here. They also rely heavily on rabbits.

The introduced American Mink is a menace. If anyone sees one we immediately set all cage traps. They are brazen and will hunt in the open in broad daylight. As the otters have increased, the mink have decreased. Why this should be we don’t know.

We have two big old badger setts on the farm and they used to be very busy. Now there are just a few badgers around and we suspect someone locally is poisoning them. The problem is that the badgers are vectors for Bovine TB, as are domestic cats. Neighbouring farms with cattle have had bTb reactors and are desperate to get rid of bTb, especially as milk prices are desperately low. The government have had no coherent policy to deal with it in this area so people are taking the law into their own hands. Although we like badgers, at the current reduced densities other species are benefitting and we are seeing hedgehog numbers recovering. You can find out more about badgers and bovine tuberculosis here

Until about 2010 we seldom saw a hedgehog on the farm at all. Now we see them fairly often in the summer months. We leave piles of brush for them to hibernate in.

We usually have 2-3 litters of foxes on the farm and they are a mixed blessing. Occasionally we find injured or crippled foxes that have been hit on the road. Farmers’ gun packs operate throughout most of Wales and these are the most effective in keeping numbers within reasonable levels. Allowing fox numbers to rise does neither the foxes nor the wildlife any favours; in the absence of natural predators the surplus foxes starve and get mange, but not until they have depressed the next trophic level down. Sometimes the foxes leave the young lambs alone, but some years we get a run of lambs disappearing one a night, especially when a vixen has cubs in the woods below the lake. It is not possible to keep free-range chickens in this area, the foxes take them even in the middle of the day, they will also kill full grown turkeys and geese. Guess how we know? Also, for several years the goslings, ducklings and moorhen chicks used to disappear one or two each day so that none at all survived to fledge. Last year we put up a fox proof 700m electrified fence all along below the lake and the geese fledged 32 goslings. We have done quite a lot of research into fox management and published a paper ‘Wounding rates in shooting foxes’ in the Journal of Animal Welfare, and also a paper ‘Welfare aspects of killing or capturing wild vertebrates in Britain’.

Rabbits are a staple for many of the predators and their numbers vary hugely. For the last 60 years myxomatosis has flared up periodically and knocked them back. In the last couple of years we think we have had a few cases of viral haemorrhagic disease on the farm. The rabbits die suddenly without noticeable symptoms. At the moment rabbit numbers are very low throughout the district. We just have a few on the dry banks and woods where they eat the bases of the young trees in the winter months.

There used to be hares on the farm maybe 50 years ago. The nearest we have seen them is north of Meidrim, about 8 km away. With the improvement of the habitat on the farm maybe they can be persuaded to come back, as long as they don’t try to breed in the silage fields where the leverets would get chopped. Reintroduction efforts down on the Castle Martin ranges were not very successful and hares certainly do not like our very wet spells. On the other hand, we used to see them on Llanllwni mountain before the lamping boys cleaned them out, and it can be wet and cold up there.

One year we counted 23 different cats on the farm. These are a real menace to wildlife and we escort them off the premises!

We have quite a few moles and we are happy to have them. They help drain the topsoil. Neighbours often poison or trap them in the spring because mole hills contaminate the silage and can ruin whole bales. We prefer to harrow in spring when the silage fields are shut up, and then set the mower a little higher to avoid earth getting into the silage.

Brown Rat

Rattus norvegicus

Common Pipistrelle

Pipistrellus pipistrellus

Common Vole

Microtus arvalis

Eurasian Badger

Meles meles (sign)

Eurasian Beaver

Castor fiber

Eurasian Shrew

Sorex araneus

Eurasian Water Shrew

Neomys fodiens

European Rabbit

Oryctolagus cuniculus

Grey squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis

Hazel Dormouse

Muscardinus avellanarius


Erinaceus europaeus

House Mouse

Mus musculus

Lesser Horseshoe Bat

Rhinolopus hipposideros


Mustela vison


Talpa europaea


Lutra lutra


Mustela putorius

Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes


Mustela erminea

Water Vole

Arvicola amphibius

Wood Mouse

Apodemus sylvaticus