By Kim Reader
This adorable harvest mouse appears to be donning the latest in haute couture fashion as it wears a dandelion like a fluffy ball gown.
The furry fashionista was snapped posing behind the perfect sphere of feathery white dandelion seeds with its head poking out the top and tail swooping out the bottom.
In the stunning shot, captured by 51-year-old Dean Mason, the cute critter is holding out a single tuft of dandelion – like a flower to complete its high-end look.
Dad-of-one Dean snapped the stylish little mammal on land in Wimborne, East Dorset, where he breeds harvest mice to be released into the wild.
Professional photographer Dean, of Ferndown, East Dorset, said: “It is such a comical photo. It looks like the mouse is wearing a little fluffy ball gown where its head and tail are poking out the dandelion.
“I have had a massive positive reaction to the photo from everyone who has seen it. It’s got that cute factor. People love anything cute and furry.
“Harvest mice are incredibly photogenic animals and they are fascinating.
“They are absolutely tiny – they are about a third of the size of a normal house mouse – and so agile. It makes for great photos. They are fabulous.
“I left my job two years back to start breeding harvest mice. I breed them to be released into the wild so I never handle them – otherwise they become tame.
“A lot of the newborns are released into the wild through a wildlife trust and the others roam free on 16 acres of private land.
“I run photography workshops so it’s rare now that I get a chance to photograph the harvest mice but every opportunity I get, I take it. I really enjoy taking photos of them, I absolutely love it.”
The tiny trend-setter was photographed by Dean using Nikon D5 camera and a Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens.
Former timber salesman Dean gave up his job to launch his business Windows on Wildlife with his wife Stephanie Mason, 48, breeding harvest mice and running photography workshops.
The life-long nature buff, who first got into photography in his teens, said the career move was a risk worth taking as at his age life should be about enjoyment.
Dean said: “I have been into photography for donkey’s years. I first started taking photos between 16 and 19 on a film camera but then girls and relationships came along and I got distracted.
“I picked it up again 17 years ago and now I can easily spend 10-14 hours in a hide. When you’re in a hide, nature comes to you and you witness fascinating behaviour.
“I have always loved nature and wildlife and I’m quite a shy person so I love the solitude and peace and tranquillity.
“I watch people walking around and they miss so much because they’re not looking but with
photography you get to capture all those moments that people don’t usually see.
“I never regret making the change in my career. It was a big risk to take but the wife and I decided to choose quality over quantity.
“At my age it’s more about enjoying life than anything else and I really do enjoy what I do.
“It’s great getting to watch people doing the workshops, especially if they’ve never seen harvest mice before.
“I once had these two guys in. The pair of them, if you saw them in the street you would cross to the other side.
“They both had shaved heads, were well over 6ft tall and built like tanks – but watching the harvest mice, they were like giggling schoolgirls. Harvest mice can put a smile on anyone’s face.”