Danbury Common in Essex is owned and managed by the National Trust. For many years we have looked after this special place for people and wildlife, including hazel dormice.
But dormice are in endanger of becoming extinct! Their numbers in the UK have been decreasing over the last century, and they have disappeared completely in certain counties.
We know that providing homes for dormice in woodlands with limited nesting habitats as well as joining disconnected habitats can help boost local populations of dormice.
Why are dormice special?
Apart from being very cute, they are very different to other mice:
- They live a lot longer – up to 5 years
- They have very few children
- They spend a lot of time and energy bringing up their family
They are also specialist feeders (nectar, sugar rich berries and insects) who need specialist habitats (woodland, hedgerows, scrub and heathland) to survive.
So, why are they becoming extinct?
- The habitats in which they live are also being broken up by roads and we’re sad to say there has also been a significant loss of hedgerows and brambles in which they nest and feed.
- The habitats they need to survive, such as ancient woodland, are being lost. In the UK we’re seeing a decline in woodland management, as well as an increase in inappropriate woodland management such as forestry plantations.
What we want to do
We want to help save dormice from extinction by:
- Providing 50 nest boxes at Danbury Common not only so we can give them a home, but monitor and observe them, so we can better understand this rare species.
- Setting up 2 nest cams to give us greater insight and be able to share our findings with more people.
- Providing rope bridges that connect the habitats dormice need to survive
Latin Name: Muscardinus avellanarius
Identification: Dormice are easily recognisable by their golden colour, furry tail and large dark eyes. They are between 6-9cm long and their tail is almost as long as their body. An adult dormouse weighs from 15-35g.
General characteristics: Dormice are mainly arboreal and nocturnal. Dormice are true hibernators, they spend up to half the year either hibernating or torpid (mentally or physically inactive).
Distribution: Hazel dormouse are the only member of the Gliridae family native to Britain. They are patchily distributed and mainly limited to southern and western counties of the UK.
Breeding season: Dormice can breed from June – September but mainly in July & August. They have one litter a year of 4-5 young. They spend 6-8 weeks with their mother and are active from April/early May until October/early November.
By pledging your support you can help us provide homes for the dormice of Danbury and boost the local population. It’s easy. Just choose your reward and you’ll be helping dormice like Derek and Doris. Thank you.