Dormouse nut hunt
Discover where dormice are living by carrying out your own Great Nut Hunt.
In order to help look after these wonderful creatures we need to know where they are. Dormice are mainly nocturnal and tend to live up in the trees and in hedgerows so it’s really hard to find them.
Luckily, though, they leave quite distinctive tell-tale signs, which are much easier to find. Hazelnuts are a favourite food of the hazel dormouse – not unsurprisingly. They love to eat hazelnuts whilst they are still green and soft enough for them to gnaw a hole in. Once they’ve reached the kernel inside, they drop the nibbled shell to the forest floor where it slowly turns brown and blends in with the leaf litter.
Dormice aren’t the only creatures who like to eat hazelnuts but fortunately each species makes unique marks when eating the nut so we can tell if dormice are around just by collecting and examining opened hazelnut shells.
The survey is easy to do and a fun activity for young and old ‘nutters’ alike, as well as an ideal family expedition.
The nutter’s guide to collecting nibbled nuts…
• Find some woods or large overgrown hedgerows near you
• If need be, ask permission from the wood or hedgerow owner to do a nut hunt
• Look for hazel trees or shrubs and search underneath for nuts
• Collect nibbled nuts, recording the amount of time you spent searching and the number of people who searched
• Sort out the collected nuts using our guide below
• Send us any nuts you think were opened by dormice with your name and contact details, the name and gird reference of the wood or hedgerow that you surveyed, the date and time of your survey and how long you spent searching. Here are our contact details. We will check them with our Chief Nutter and let you know.
• Don’t forget to bubble wrap or pad your nuts so they don’t get crushed in the post.
If you find dormice nibbled nuts we will add your records to our National Dormouse Database to protect dormice and their homes now and in the future.