A small but stocky juvenile dormouse with time to fatten up before hibernation.

Our last nest box checks were completed in October but we hope to make one more visit to check that the boxes are clean and ready for winter. Any replacements will be noted so that we can replace them before the end of February. Colquite numbers were down to sixteen this year compared to twenty-one in 2022 and we didn’t find any nursery nests in the boxes but they were somewhere because we found juvenile dormice in October.

You may remember the injured female we found near the top of  Treovis wood in April? Still alive and healing in May; down by the river in June; no signs of her in July & August but in September she was found in a box near the top of Colquite Wood with her scar still visible. She was in good condition so we’ll look out for her next spring. We know that dormice move around but to be able to record one locally and see the distance they can travel, is really interesting.

Last year we only saw six dormice in Treovis & Broad Woods; we thought that this could be due to the number of fallen trees and the very necessary work to clear them and the ash trees that were threatening to fall on neighbouring land. All in all, quite a lot of disturbance but this year, we have recorded a total of twenty-two, including some young dormice found in September. This may seem late for them to breed but reports from ‘up- country’ show that many young dormice and even pregnant females were found.

In October we found eight in total including the two, now nearly independent, from the previous month. So long as they can find enough food to fatten up to survive hibernation, they should be fine. The hazel nut crop finished early but there are berries, ivy flowers, young hazel catkins, caterpillars on remaining leaves and woodlice, beetles etc. in the leaf litter although it is risky for the dormice to forage on the ground where they are more vulnerable.

A very strongly constructed nest within a nest with a sleeping dormouse inside.

And, of course this is where they hibernate, down on the ground with their round hibernation nests covered with leaves and moss, so, please keep your dogs on leads and stay on the paths. Foxes & badgers, even pheasants can disturb them as well but we see very few, if any, signs of these in the woods now.

A very strongly constructed nest within a nest with a sleeping dormouse inside. We replaced it into the box and left it in peace.

A very strongly constructed nest within a nest with a sleeping dormouse inside. We replaced it into the box and left it in peace.

Jen Bousfield, licensed dormouse monitor. November 2023

You’ll soon be seeing dormice all over the place – the new 1p coin has a dormouse on it! Maybe you could put these in your Christmas puddings this year.