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Can you protect dormice in danger by sponsoring a dormouse house?
You’ll be keeping threatened dormice safe and helping return them to carefully managed woodlands where they can flourish again.
What’s the problem?
Only 100 years ago, dormice were widespread throughout England and Wales. Their natural woodland habitat was managed through careful cutting of trees and shrubs, and was connected by a healthy network of hedges. But since then, inappropriate woodland management (or lack thereof) has hit dormice hard.
The ancient woodlands they rely on are shrinking and becoming more isolated as roads and developments carve up the land and traditional hedgerows are lost. There are fewer areas where dormice can forage and isolated animal populations makes it incredibly difficult for dormice to thrive in our countryside. We’re working hard to promote better woodland management and restore hedgerows, but it’s just not enough to save dormice. To help ensure their long term survival, we return them to areas from which they have become extinct with carefully planned dormouse releases.
Our recent State of Britain’s Dormice report reveals an alarming loss of 51% of the population since 2000.
How do reintroductions help?
We deliberately release dormice in breeding pairs and supply them with food, water and nest boxes so they have a safe environment in which to breed. Hazel dormice are slow breeders compared with most other small mammals, but with the right help, these founder populations will produce countless generations of dormice in the coming years and establish a healthy population as a direct consequence of your support.
By placing dormouse boxes in woodlands across the country, we provide dormice with a safe home when natural nesting sites are scarce. These boxes give us a practical and systematic means of monitoring dormouse populations. They tell us how different regions are faring, where we need to release new dormice to fill the gaps in threatened populations, and where we need to connect them with better hedgerows so they can find breeding partners.
Why save dormice?
Despite many people never having seen a dormouse, they’re a treasured British species. Dormice are great indicators of animal and plant diversity – where dormice thrive, so do all kinds of other species we want to protect, such as flowers, bats and butterflies. But they’re highly vulnerable, and that’s why they’re one of PTES’s key species. We run the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme and the figures tell us clearly that dormice have declined by half since 2000. However, evidence shows the decline is slowing, which means our efforts are making a difference.
Every dormouse life is precious. To save them from extinction, we have to do everything we can to protect them.
All of our reintroductions happen in June, before the mating season begins, so that the dormice can adapt to their surroundings before breeding begins. We then check the nest boxes throughout the summer to see how the new families are doing and record our findings.
Last year’s reintroduction was in a woodside in Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with 30 healthy dormice ready to begin their life in the wild. During our August box check, 21 dormice were recorded, including 11 young from three different litters. A further two litters were recorded on our September check, and by October, 50 dormice were recorded with 20 young from eight different litters. This demonstrates that the dormice were safe and healthy, with plenty of food, and that the environment was highly conducive to breeding. Within five months of the initial reintroduction, we were already recording more dormice than we had released. This is a huge success.
We’ve now released over 1,000 dormice into 13 counties where they had become extinct, rebuilding lost populations and ensuring new generations of dormice in the future.
Just a few weeks ago we reintroduced 39 dormice into a woodland in Lancashire, close to the wood where we released dormice in 2021. These are the dormice you will be helping with your donation, as they prepare to bring new life into the world.
Your sponsorship of a dormouse house will give endangered dormice and their babies the help they need to survive.
A key part of conservation is allowing animals to thrive in the wild. When dormice have babies, we try not to disturb them. They need to learn how to forage for food, build nests and disperse into the wider woodland. By supporting our House a Dormouse programme, you are supporting our work to appropriately manage woods for wildlife and provide nest boxes to dormice so they can safely nest and raise their young. As part of this programme, we send out an informational booklet about dormice and our work to protect them, as well as photos and updates about the dormice throughout the year.
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