Dormouse

Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)

There are two species of dormouse in Britain; the common or hazel dormouse known in large parts of Europe as the sleeping mouse, and the Fat or Edible dormouse which seems to have been imported by the Romans for food, hence the name.

The information below refers to the common dormouse.

Summer dormouse nest made from clematis bark
Summer dormouse nest woven from clematis bark.

Surveys have been carried out in Bluebell Wood as part of Hampshire Wildlife Trusts ‘Great Nut Hunt’ to ascertain the presence or otherwise of this shy little creature. The survey produced a number of positive results and work in ongoing to find the extent of the populated area.

Results so far seem to indicate that the pylon line running between the two parts of the woodland has formed an effective barrier to the dormice although more work needs to be carried out.

The difficulty with surveying for dormice is that they are both nocturnal and spend up to 9 months of the year asleep. They are also a highly protected species and a licence is needed to handle them. The method most commonly used to survey for dormice is the nut hunt. By looking at opened nuts it is possible to identify whether they have been opened by dormice or other species.

The nest in the picture above was found during coppicing work in the winter of 2006/07. It is a summer nest we believe to have been blown from a tree during winter storms and no dormice were using it at the time.

For more information on the Autecology of the hazel dormouse please look at the BBC web site. Click the link to view the site.

There is also a new English Nature (Natural England) Handbook on dormouse conservation available as a PDF file from Hampshire county councils woodland News page.