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A Clay Cavern Update!

One of my most successful cams has been ‘Clay Cavern’… a mock burrow I made out of clay, which has attracted mice, voles and shrews over the last year or so. A month or so ago, the rats discovered it and managed to nibble their way in, enlarging the holes, scaring of my smaller mammal visitors. This set up inspired the Springwatch and Autumnwatch Mammal Stump and I helped and advised in the setting up of this great BBC cam.

Today, I set about giving the Clay Cavern a little bit of a makeover and trying to make it less easy for rats to get in. Once I had removed the mock burrow from its box under a wicker basket in my hedge, it was clear to see the damage the rats had done. There used to be a little clay tunnel out of one side, but it had been nibbled into a large hole.

I decided to try to house the whole of the cavern inside a box, unlike last time, where it was pretty easy to access. I had been given this bumble bee home and not used it… I was a little sceptical about how effective it would be for bumble bees, but it was the perfect size…. 

I used a wood bit to cut out two holes to match up with the two entrances in the cavern. I had to use a piece of pipe to extend the one that had been nibbled a lot….

I pushed a piece of tubing through the other hole and then carefully placed the cavern inside, lining up the holes. I placed a metal nest box protector on the outside of the hole…

There was just enough space for the camera to slide in….

The box needs to be lit by an IR array and this one was made for me by Jason at Wildlife Windows. Using a power splitter, I can power this along with my little camera, lighting the cavern with invisible light, meaning we can watch the action at night. This was mounted on a piece of wood that forms a lid on the cavern.

Once completed, I popped the whole thing back where it had been before. It may take my mammals a few days to brave the new entrances, but I am pretty sure they’ll be back in and out very soon!

I just need to make a few cosmetic changes to the inside of the box and then it will just be a matter of waiting. I hope the rats decide it is not worth the effort and go and feed at Hedgecam instead! Keep an eye out for visitors on my live stream at night.


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