Illuminated Mammal Feeding Station

Following on from the success of the new hedgehog illuminated diner set-up, I wanted to see if I could create a smaller space and encourage my mouse, vole, possibly shrew and other small visitors to a feeding station that was similar to Clay Cavern, but this time with lights inside. The advantage of this, is that the images will be in colour, rather than in black and white, as they are in clay cavern. It is completely dark in clay cavern and the space is lit by an infra-red array. The small camera in there is sensitive to IR, so it looks like it is quite light in there. This dark space means that the mice and voles behave quite naturally in there as they feel safe. I want to see if I can get them used to a lit space. I will be able to see them more clearly, as I really want to see their colours, and hopefully capture some good clips. 

The wood mice and rats have got used to feeding at the hedgecam feeder, which also has a light on at night, so I am confident that they will soon get used to this space as well.

I began looking through my ‘stocks’ to see what I had that I could use to make this space. I found a frog / toad home that I had received from some old / broken stock from Ark WIldlife. I thought I could adapt this to make the kind of space I had envisaged. Collecting some bits of bark and a few tools, I started to customise it!

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I wanted the space to look pretty natural inside, so I trimmed the bark strips to line the inside space. I also added some bits of dried grass etc.

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Once I had completed this, I was ready to experiment with the camera and lighting.  I used an old nest box camera, a set of lights that are the same as the hedgehog box ones (thanks to Dave Brining again!) and a power splitter. This allows me to power the lights and the camera from the same, single camera power cable.

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I also have a little monitor that I can plug into the camera, so I can get an idea as to the image the camera is seeing. This is very useful for set-up, although fine focus tuning needs to be done on a bigger screen. This little monitor is very useful if I am up a tree through… otherwise you have to plug everything in and keep running back inside to see what it looks like!

I arranged to two strips of light in the roof space and positioned the camera low down. I feel that this gives a nice, intimate view o the visitors. I played around  before settling on the positions.

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Now I had to decide where to place this set up. I chose to add ANOTHER cable through my wall in the office as most of the other cams are live or will be when I swap to nest boxes. I then set it up in the base of the hedge, below hedgecam. The animals here are already feeding in a lit space, so I thought they may be less phased by the light. It will take a while for the first visitors I expect, but the image is clear and I am quite excited about seeing my first visitor… probably a wood mouse or a rat!

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Keep your eye out. I will probably have this cam on my day and night feeders for a bit to watch out for visitors. Let me know if you see anything!