Dormice Muscardinus avellanarius are mainly nocturnal and arboreal, and can be found in woodland, hedgerows and scrub. They feed on flowers, fruits and insects, with hazel Corylus avellana being one of their preferred foodplants. Dormice hibernate over the winter months, and during this time they may be found at ground level such as within root balls and beneath moss or fallen leaves.
Protection and Legislation
Dormice are fully protected under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
It is an offence to;
- Deliberately capture, injure or kill
- Deliberately disturb
- Damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place
- Possess or advertise/sell/exchange (dead or alive) or any part of
Wherever development may impact on habitat which could be used by dormice, a dormouse survey must be carried out by a licensed ecologist to determine whether dormice are present. The most common survey technique is the use of nest tubes, often in conjunction with nut or nest searches.
- Nest tubes: The standard survey practice for dormice on development sites. Nest tubes are placed within suitable habitat on the site and then monitored once per month April-November.
- Nut search: Examining the site for hazel nuts opened by dormice
- Nest search: Examining the site for dormice nests
Licensing and Mitigation
Works which will impact upon dormice may require a derogation licence to be obtained from the appropriate statutory body for nature conservation prior to the start of works. A mitigation licence permits operations which would otherwise constitute an offence and will only be approved if it includes a suitable mitigation plan and is completed by a licensed ecologist.