Survey fails to find regions rarest mouse

Door mouseConservationists have released the first year findings of a three year project to discover if the Hazel Dormouse still exists in Leicestershire and Rutland.
The little rodent has not been sighted in Leicestershire since the 1970’s and in Rutland since the 1990’s.

The voluntary project , supported by Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council, Leicester and Rutland Wildlife Trust  and Forestry Commission failed to come up with a positive record during the first year of the survey.  However a public appeal has led to some intriguing clues being provided by nature lovers that pieced together may yet produce a dormouse.

Co-ordinator Barry Ingram said:

‘’We may be getting closer to our quarry as we have had a couple of good leads reported.  There is a sighting by a resident in Market Harborough and also another report from the  Luffenham area of Rutland. It’s a fascinating nature detective story and in common with any detective story, that one piece of information from the public could complete the jigsaw and uncover a dormouse.

 As we move into spring dormice will be coming out of hibernation and can occasionally be seen in daytime so we need villagers, farmers, landowners, nature lovers, walkers, indeed anyone who enjoys the great outdoors, to report or relate any experiences of dormice they may have had past and present. Has your cat brought one in for example? if you think it has, email us a photo.’’

Dr Helen O’Brien the County mammal recorder said:

‘’In the same way the presence of otters reflect healthy and well managed rivers and waterways, the presence of dormice in hedgerows and woodlands indicates  healthy well managed habitat. The absence of dormice doesn’t necessarily mean our woodlands and hedgerows are still poor,  as they have improved in recent years. However the dormice have become extinct and as yet have been unable to re-colonise’’.

The mouse sized little animal is one of our prettiest wild animals. It possesses a coat of golden or light sandy brown fur that extends on to its tail. This is unlike other mice that have naked tails with just a few hairs on.

The dormouse spends all of its waking hours (it is mainly active at night) clambering about in trees, hedgerows, scrub and woodlands, rarely coming to the ground.

The dormouse usually only  comes to the ground  to sleep, the dormouse hibernates for the winter between October and March.

Dormice are harmless and an important indicator that local woodlands and hedgerows are of high value for lots of other wildlife, as they require plenty of different shrubs and trees as well as dense cover.

Anyone who would like to report a dormouse can contact the Dormouse Project on:

The Dormouse Project on 0116 2671950 / 0116 2293632
Or write to: Dormouse Project, Holly Hayes Environmental Resource Centre, 216 Birstall Road, Birstall, Leicestershire  LE4 4DG