THE HAZEL DORMOUSE
The hazel dormouses Latin name avellanarius means 'hazel'.
The Hazel Dormouse is the only small mammal in Britain to have a completely furry tail. They have golden-brown fur and large black eyes and are nocturnal creatures spending most of their waking hours high among the branches of trees looking for food. They will make long detours through the treetops rather than come down to the ground and expose themselves to danger.
From early October dormice hibernate in nests beneath the leaf litter on the forest floor. When they wake up in spring (late April or early May), they build woven nests of shredded honeysuckle bark, fresh leaves and grasses in the undergrowth. If the weather is cold and wet, and food scarce, they save energy by going into torpor; they curl up into a ball and go to sleep. Dormice, therefore, spend a large proportion of their lives sleeping; either hibernating in winter or in torpor in summer.
Examination of hazel nuts may show a neat round hole in the shell. This indicates that it has been opened by a small rodent, e.g. the dormouse, Wood mouse, or Bank vole. Other animals such as squirrel or jay will either split the shell completely in half or make a jagged hole in it. Further examination reveals that the inner rim of the hole has toothmarks which are at an angle to the hole for the dormouse.
A variety of different food sources available at different times of year is required to ensure the hazeldormouse survives.
Woodland and hedgerows that are species rich and connected to woodland. Ideally they are 3 to 4 metres high, and left at least 7 years before cutting - because many shrubs do not begin to fruit until that time period has passed.
They usually only travel less than 70 metres from their nest.
Trees and shrubs of value to dormice: