Posted by: lhct | August 9, 2019

Dormice have new Chesworth homes

Hazel dormice are a declining species in Britain, with most of them found in the southern counties of England. The reduction of managed woodland and the loss of hedgerows that used to link them has severely affected the national population. But Chesworth’s ancient, well-managed hedge lines, with their wide variety of shrubs and trees, provide the perfect alternative habitat.

Click to watch a short video of setting up the first nest box

A survey last year along some of the farm’s field boundaries proved the presence of these delightful nocturnal animals. And this summer we have put up a number of boxes in the hope that they will provide ideal nesting places later this season, thanks to a generous donation and plenty of volunteers.

The young dormice are born in late July and August and after four weeks in the nest they will emerge and begin to disperse. Once independent, they will continue to feed on the berries, nuts and flowers of trees and climbing shrubs – and the occasional caterpillar and aphid or two – in preparation for hibernation. They will then prepare a tight hibernaculum of grass, leaves and honeysuckle bark at the base of a hedge and seal the entrance. Here they will sleep, from late October or November, right through to spring the next year.

Checking the boxes will now be restricted to specially trained and licensed people as hazel dormice and their nests are well protected by UK law.

 


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