Did you now that a Dormouse population has been living on the central reservation of the A38 in the Haldon Forest area for at least 10 years. This tiny bit of woodland is only 50 metres wide at most but home to a thriving population of dormice some of whom are breeding twice a year, a sure sign of a great habitat, indeed the population is twice as dense as you would expect to find in an area of the same size.
With a body measuring 3in and a tail of similar length, he’s a natty little fellow with a pointed face, prominent dark eyes and lively vibrissae. The soft coat varies from a demerara-sugar hue to reddish or even black, but it’s not waterproof, making misty mornings or damp summers a misery.
The long, feathery tail (one in 10 of which is white-tipped) is covered in such delicate skin that it will easily peel off – a way of eluding the grasp of such predators as badgers and tawny owls.
The common dormouse isn’t really a mouse, nor is it nowadays particularly common. This strangely endearing little rodent is seldom seen – being both nocturnal and arboreal – and it is known for spending up to three-quarters of its life asleep.
Although Dormice are very common in the south west, and have been found in many areas other than hazel woods, including hedgerows, conifer plantations. Over the last 100 years dormice have become extinct in seven counties in the northern part of their range and populations have declined elsewhere, particularly in the north. This is believed to be due to changes in woodland management (cessation of coppicing) and loss and fragmentation of woodland, probably exacerbated by a decline in the number and quality of hedgerows.
Did you know-It takes a dormouse 20 minutes to open a hazelnut.
If you are lucky enough to spot one of these endearing little creatures remember you can be fined up to £5,000 and go to prison for up to six months for disturbing, injuring or killing a hazel dormouse or damaging or destroying its habitat.