© Edward Mills

Dreaming of Dormice

Assessing whether the hazel dormouse has an established breeding presence in the scheme area, where it occurs and establish a baseline of its population size.

The hazel dormouse is a declining species nationally but is present here in the northwest. To prevent it from dying out, we need to know more about our local dormice, and what we can do to improve their habitat.

We are gathering data to assess whether the hazel dormouse has an established breeding presence in the scheme area, where it occurs and establish a baseline of its population size. We will then use this information to make recommendations on the future conservation of the species and we will focus woodland management in areas that would benefit known populations.

We aim to:

  • Install dormouse nest boxes over a 10 ha area
  • Engage local landowners
  • Organise educational nut hunt events
  • Train volunteers in species identification and biodiversity recording
  • Deliver volunteer days
  • Engage people through nut hunt activities
  • Deliver courses on dormice ecology

So far so good...

Update March 2019

  • Action Group up and running with National Conference attended.
  • 63 volunteers engaged in the project and trained.
  • Two successful ‘Nut Hunts’ produced a dozen nuts potentially chewed by Dormouse and a potential nest, thought none confirmed.
  • 590 nest boxes being monitored over 13 sites.
  • High hopes a Dormouse will be seen in Summer 2019!

Did you know?

  • Hazel dormice are our only native dormouse.
  • Once widespread in the South Lakes, they are now only recorded in a few locations.
  • Dormice are a flagship species, where they occur is usually suitable for a wide range of species.
  • Dormice are really lazy, they hibernate from October through to April or May.
  • Cumbria is at the northern most limit of their range in the UK.
  • They don’t just live in hazel coppices, they are known to have been found feeding, nesting and hibernating in conifer plantations, fields and hedgerows.
  • See our short article on the Hazel Dormouse


Project Lead

Rusland Horizons Staff Team

The Challenge

The Hazel Dormouse is a declining species across England and is present here in one of its northernmost outposts in the UK. Its decline is linked to the lack of coppice woodland management and fragmentation of woodland. It is a shy mammal that is dependent on the dense shrub layer, ample food and cover, which actively coppiced woodland provides. The species can also suffer when populations become isolated in a landscape. Hedgerows, therefore, can provide essential corridors between woodlands.

Our Approach

By setting up a Dormouse Action Group, we are involving a number of key partner organisations, interested locals and experts in the monitoring programme. We are recruiting and training volunteers in Dormouse monitoring techniques. This involves repairing nest boxes, installing new boxes and carrying out nut hunts. The results of the surveys will contribute to the understanding of dormouse populations in the South lakes and help in the development of a broader strategy for the conservation of the species in the area.

Raising public awareness about the endangered status of dormice and working with landowners to increase understanding and expand suitable habitat are also key parts of the programme.

© Rusland Horizons 2017 - 2019. All rights reserved.
Rusland Horizons is a Landscape Partnership funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund