Dormice populations in the UK have fallen by around a third since 2000, and are now extinct in 17 British counties. Habitation loss is one of the main reasons for their decline, as well as our increasingly warm winters.
The conservation charity has revealed three key ways in which we can help the small animals, particularly those of us who live close to woodland areas. These include...
- Allowing brambles to grow
- Leaving ivy on trees
- Piling up logs
Hazel dormice are small, native rodents with golden-brown fur, long whiskers and large black eyes. They prefer to live high in the tree canopy, so you won't be able to find them on the ground. Sadly, because of their decline, you are unlikely to spot them at all.
If you do see one of the small rodents, they should be reported via the People's Trust for Endangered Species.
Rangers at the National Trust's wooded Cotehele Estate in Cornwall recently discovered a sleepy pair of dormice during their monthly monitoring check. A special licence is required to handle these rare animals, which were found semi-hibernating inside one of their 50 wooden boxes.
George Holmes, Lead Ranger at the National Trust said: "Finding a snoring dormouse inside a nesting box is an amazing feeling – they’re such gentle and charismatic creatures.
"Sadly, they're so rare now that most people will never see one in their lifetime. We're working hard to improve numbers on the estate. Dormice are a key indicator species of the health of a woodland – so if the dormice are thriving, chances are other wildlife is too."
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