It took almost a whole season of survey to discover, but after monthly checks having setting out nest boxes and tubes in early June, dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) were discovered in hedges at a site in the south west of England.
Dormice are elusive and one of the hardest species to find. They have a southern distribution in England and occur in Wales (with some outlier populations in the north, such as Northumberland, as well as introductions in Cheshire and Yorkshire). They can occur on sites with woodland, scrub or hedgerows, and in some counties in the South West of England they have also been recorded on relatively open, tree-less habitats such as heathland and culm grassland.
Dormice need habitats containing lots of different types of shrubs and trees to ensure a continuous supply of food throughout the year – well, until they hibernate. When found on development sites the approach is to try and retain the existing habitats. T
The key to successful mitigation is to ensure that the habitats remain connected to other areas of suitable habitat in the wider area. Scrub habitats are ideal for dormice and often compensatory planting of scrub forms part of the mitigation strategy. Indirect impacts of developments are also an issue, with residential development bringing with it increased pressure on woodlands from recreational use and predators such as cats.
As a European Protected Species, dormice and their habitats have the highest level of protection afforded them, the same level of protection as bats under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.