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Astounding photo of squabbling mice wins U.K. wildlife photography award

Photographer Sam Rowley's photograph 'Station Squabble' features two tiny mice fighting in a subway station. It won people's choice for Wildlife Photographer of the Year from London's Natural History Museum.
Photographer Sam Rowley's photograph 'Station Squabble' features two tiny mice fighting in a subway station. It won people's choice for Wildlife Photographer of the Year from London's Natural History Museum. Sam Rowley/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Mice are often viewed as the forgotten vermin of society, but a young photographer has made two of the rodents into stars.

BBC researcher Sam Rowley snapped a photo, entitled Station Squabble, of two mice fighting in the London Underground. It’s gone on to earn Rowley the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award from London’s Natural History Museum after a public vote.

In the epic snapshot, two mice can be seen fighting over scraps of food. One appears to be standing upright and holding the other by its neck, tilting it back on its hind legs.

The winner was chosen from among more than 48,000 images.

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“Everybody knows about the mice on the Underground, but I don’t think anyone’s seen them in that light before,” Rowley, 25, told CNN.

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To get the shot, Rowley had to lie on the ground in the station, a move he said garnered him “strange looks.”

“People were quite curious. They were quite chatty and nice about the whole thing,” he told CNN.

It was a snap of a lifetime, given that the mice fight only lasted a second, the Independent reports — but Rowley had been trying to get the perfect shot for weeks.

He first got the idea of photographing mice after his friend sent him a video of two rodents scrapping in a train station, CNN reports.

“I usually take a burst of photos and I got lucky with this shot, but then I had spent five days lying on a platform so it was probably going to happen at some point,” Rowley told the BBC.

The goings-on of mice on the Underground have always fascinated the photographer, who wandered the subway tunnels for a week before nailing his winning shot, the Observer reports.

“These Tube mice, for example, are born and spend their whole lives without ever even seeing the sun or feeling a blade of grass,” told the BBC.

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“On one level, it’s a desperate situation — running along gloomy passages for a few months, maybe a year or two, and then dying. And because there are so many mice and so few resources, they have to fight over something as irrelevant as a crumb.”

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Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, describes Rowley’s incredible photo as a “glimpse into how wildlife functions in a human-dominated environment.”

“The mice’s behaviour is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard,” Dixon said in a press release.

“This image reminds us that while we may wander past it every day, humans are inherently intertwined with the nature that is on our doorstep.

Photographer focuses on wildlife for Lethbridge International Film Festival
Photographer focuses on wildlife for Lethbridge International Film Festival

“I hope it inspires people to think about and value this relationship more.”

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca