Record dormouse count at Suffolk’s primary site

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Senior Ecologists Tracy Simpson and Danny Thomas from our Norwich office have been giving up their own time in the pursuit of dormice.

Danny and Tracy are licensed dormouse surveyors and they volunteer for Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT), undertaking surveys at several woodland sites in Suffolk as part of the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme.

Last week at SWT’s primary dormouse site, Bradfield Wood, over thirty dormice were found, something of a record for the time of year. Surveys are undertaken in June, September and October with peak numbers usually found in September and October – often exceeding 120 dormice on this site, but this early summer visit is normally less hectic.

The higher numbers may be a result of the warm autumn last year which has allowed more of last year’s babies to reach critical weight before hibernating over the winter. It is well known that dormice sleep a lot and they are often found in a torpid state during surveys, but did you know that some actually snore?

DNA samples were taken from each dormouse found so that the genetic variability across this population can be measured – this might reveal some interesting new information about our charismatic species. The Suffolk dormouse represents populations at the northernmost limit of their natural range (though dormice have been introduced to Cheshire and around Nottingham). The ancient woodland sites in Suffolk are being managed accordingly to benefit this charming little rodent.  If you have a woodland or farmland site with hedgerows in southern England you may also have dormice and should take the opportunity to see how you can manage your site for their benefit.

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