DormouseBack in mid-April when we began to check the dormouse nest boxes, we found our first dormouse of the season. This was in box 24, quite high up near the top of Treovis Wood. She was curled up asleep (in torpor, not hibernation) and as we gently took her out to weigh her, we noticed a nasty wound on her right flank. No sign of infection but it was red and raw. One unpleasant side to Wood Mice is that they will sometimes enter dormouse boxes and start to nibble the dormouse while it is in deep sleep and often all we find is part of the pelt…

What to do? We gently cleaned the area around the wound in the hope that the wipe would not only disinfect but leave an unpleasant taste to discourage any further predation. She weighed 15.5g which is typical after hibernation. When we checked again a month later, we were prepared for the worst so to see her asleep but still whole was really good, that is, until we weighed her. Now only 14g so she had not been able to find enough food. The wound was no longer red though.

DormouseSo again, in June, we expected the worst but the nest was completely empty with no signs of disturbance. OK, so she’s moved on, good luck little one. And we carried on down, checking the boxes as far as the leat path which is quite a long way down unless, that is, you are a dormouse travelling through the canopy because in box 41b, there was a new nest. Not the greatest design but it contained a torpid dormouse. As I lifted it out, there she was! The scar had healed with dark grey fur beginning to regrow; only the tips of the hairs are the lovely honey brown colour. And she had put on 4g to reach 18g which is more like it, the average is 19g.

DormouseNot so deeply asleep this time and she began to wake up, glaring up as if to say ‘Not you again!’ While still in my hand she rolled onto her back, tucked in her feet to form a ball and with a final flourish, tossed her fluffed out tail back over her head and tightly shut her eyes.

Jen Bousfield, licensed Dormouse Monitor July 2023