Dormice in Westwood

The Dormouse Muscardinus arvellanarius

Recognition: Orange/yellow fur; the only small mammal with a thick bushy tail. Head/body length: about 60-90mm, tail 57-68mm Weight: 10-15g in juveniles; 15-26g in adults; up to 43g before hibernation

Dormice are strictly protected by law and may not be disturbed in their nests, collected, trapped or sold except under licence. Their principal requirement is for a diverse habitat featuring several different trees and shrubs to provide food throughout the summer. Coppice management of woodlands can create such conditions; but cleared areas and wide rides may interfere with the movements of dormice, because the animals live almost exclusively in the trees. Surveys suggest that dormice have declined in Britain this century. Loss and fragmentation of ancient woodlands, climatic difficulties and suspension of coppicing are all probably connected with this. Nestboxes, put up with the entrance facing a tree trunk, are attractive to dormice and help survival and breeding success. Re-introductions of dormice are often suggested, but these require suitable (large) areas of woodland habitat and long periods of supplementary feeding. Captive bred dormice often do not thrive and wild-caught animals are unlikely to be available in sufficient numbers.

General Ecology: The dormouse is a strictly nocturnal species, found in deciduous woodland and overgrown hedgerows. It spends most of its time climbing among tree branches in search of food, and rarely comes to the ground. It feeds on flowers, pollen, fruits, insects and nuts. During the day it sleeps in a nest, often in a hollow tree branch or a deserted bird nest or nestbox. Dormice occur mainly in southern counties, especially in Devon, Somerset, Sussex and Kent. There are few recorded localities north of the Midlands, though they are present in parts of the Lake District and scattered in Welsh localities. Dormice live at low population densities (one tenth as abundant as bank voles and woodmice in the same habitats). They can raise one or occasionally two litters a year, each usually of about four young. The new-born dormice remain with their mother for 6-8 weeks before becoming independent. The breeding season and success depends very much on the weather. Dormice are able to lower their body temperature and become torpid, so saving energy, if food is short or weather prevents them foraging. During the winter they hibernate and are not normally active again until about April or May. Thus dormice may spend three-quarters of their year `asleep', behaviour which earned them their sleepy reputation in Lewis Carroll's Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. Dormice live up to five years in the wild, much longer than other small mammals.

Rank and the dormouse ?

Rank belive that the construction and then day to day running of a Oasis holiday town with street lighting and 4000 people movements every three days will not effect this timid nocturnal endangered mammal .