Killer mice ‘massacre’ woodland toys on National Trust estate in north Norfolk
- Credit: Archant
Killer mice have wreaked carnage among much larger woodland mammals on a National Trust estate in north Norfolk.
A badger has been disemboweled, a fox blinded, hedgehogs have had their snouts ripped off, squirrels' paws have been mangled, and a stoat's coat stripped.
Happily, no animals were actually harmed in the outrage - all the victims were soft toys belonging to Sheringham Park's Acorns toddler and parent club.
But the rampaging rodents were definitely real, and several of the guilty wood mice have been humanely rounded up from the Park's learning centre and sent on their way outdoors.
The fluffy massacre was discovered when a volunteer went to fetch a bin bag filled with soft toys to use in a woodland game with the tots about animal tracking.
The bag had been stored for more than two winter months in the learning centre's attic.
'When he opened the bag, a mouse jumped out!' said Jenny Brandish, another club volunteer.
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'When we took the animals out of the bag, we couldn't believe it. It was as if they had tasted each toy in turn to see which had the best stuffing.
'There were 20 or 30 toys in there and stuffing was everywhere. There were missing paws, noses, a fox with only one eye - and one poor rabbit had a huge hole in its back,' added Mrs Brandish, who took on the role of emergency vet.
She gathered up the wounded and took them home for surgery.
Many were now as good as new but several, despite careful stitching, had been left with 'weird expressions', and two were beyond saving, she said.
Rob Coleman, learning officer at Sheringham Park, said the wood mice would have been using the stuffing as nesting material.
He had placed a longworth trap in the centre and caught four - although one had escaped and may have been trapped twice.
Mr Coleman said he had released one in his garden and the others outdoors at Sheringham Park, at some distance from the centre.
Acorn children had seen one of the trapped mice and been fascinated.
He is appealing for anyone with unwanted, realistic soft toy British mammals and owls - no bright colours or teddies - to drop them in at the learning centre in a bid to restock supplies.
And Mr Coleman has invested in a sturdy plastic storage box with a close-fitting lid to avoid future calamities.
The learning centre is open seven days a week from March 12.
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