Young conservationists meet Nottinghamshire’s rare dormice

Photo by Lorna Griffiths

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s youth team, Keeping it Wild, was invited to a secret location to help Nottinghamshire Dormouse Group survey the rare mammals.

Thanks to support of the players of People's Postcode Lottery, Keeping it Wild offers exciting weekly and monthly sessions that encourage young people to develop their understanding and passion for wildlife with their peers.

Joe Barks of Keeping It Wild surveying dormice

Joe Barks, 14, helps to weigh a hazel dormouse.

Fourteen young people joined Lorna Griffiths, Chair of Nottinghamshire Dormouse Group, in surveying dormouse boxes across the woodland.

Each member had the chance to check a box which mostly contained dormice but also wren’s nests. The best find of the day saw a family of three mice in one box, including an adult that had previously been ringed by the group, and two babies.

The members weighed each mouse and made a note of their sex and age as part of the dormouse group’s vital surveying work.

Hazel dormice, also known as common dormice, have seen their habitat range shrink by 50% in the last 100 years.

But there have been four successful reintroductions of dormice into the county since 2013, the most recent saw eleven dormice released near Retford in June.

Joe Barks and Joseph Archibald of Keeping It Wild Surveying Dormice

Joseph Archibald, 15 and Joe Barks, 14, weigh a hazel dormouse as part of the survey.

Their presence in Nottinghamshire is particularly special, as dormice are almost exclusively found south of a line between Shropshire and Suffolk.

The team learnt about the reintroduction programme, and saw how these tiny creatures have been reintroduced to our county’s forests.

Iona McMillan, 19, said: “Seeing dormice was such a special opportunity. It was amazing to see these beautiful tiny creatures up close for the very first time. It was so exciting checking the boxes, several of which had babies in too! It was inspiring and uplifting to learn about the successful reintroduction of this very endangered species into Nottingham and I hope that they keep on spreading as habitat management and biodiversity corridors improve.”

Keeping It Wild dormouse surveying

An adult dormouse weighs up to just 27g.

Laura Bacon, Audience Development Officer for the Wildlife Trust, said: “The group had such a good time surveying the mouse boxes, and felt very lucky to have seen such rare animals up close. All of our sessions provide young people from inner city Nottingham with wildlife experiences that will stay with them forever, and we couldn’t do it without the vital funding from People’s Postcode Lottery.”

For more information about Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s Keeping it Wild Youth Team check out their web page

For more information about Nottinghamshire Dormouse Group follow @NottsDormice on Twitter.