Dormice homes are up and ready!

Some of you may remember  saga of the Dormice here in the garden, their hibernation nests which we found and the planning permission which we opposed when their habitat  was threatened by the building next door. So far, no trees or hedges have come down and the houses are almost finished, so far, so good. The huge extension to the school hasn’t taken place, a couple have bought it and say it is plenty big enough as it is. The smaller of the 2 houses is finished and occupied but they have a cat who seems to think our garden is a happy hunting ground for it, early this morning I saw it, making its way home but a few paces behind was a fox! Do the dormice stand a chance with a cat next door, I wonder.

Dormice boxes

Last Christmas I was given four Dormice nest boxes to put in the garden and during the summer these were placed out of the way, at the back of hedges in areas where we never normally go.

Dormouse Box

The first box was put up behind a holly bush in the border by the field. This is just over the spot where I found the original nest made from beautifully interwoven grass. I was holding a branch to one side so that I could take the photo, it can hardly be seen now.

Dormouse box

The second box was placed in the beech hedge up at the top of the garden by the field.

Dormouse box

We tried to put one into the woodland, it seemed the obvious place for one, but all the trees were too big for the ties that were provided. At the back of the border by the school, where it is very dark inside a laurel bush, we found the perfect spot. This photo was taken with the flash as it was so dark, so I think it will be well camouflaged.

Dormouse box

The fourth box was placed in a hawthorn bush which is behind the pond, I had to be careful stepping back to take the photo, one more step and I would have been in the pond! The eagle eyed amongst you might be thinking as I was, where is the hole for the dormouse to get in, well it is round the back between 2 pieces of batten holding the box proud of the tree trunk, I hope the dormouse finds it!

The dormouse is well protected in this country with plenty of laws to protect the dormice themselves, as well as their habitat. It needs protecting as it is an endangered species with their numbers declining rapidly due to hedges being ripped out and the changes in farming practises. In spite of this, due to building demands on the countryside, their habitat is being destroyed,  every day more hedges and trees are cut down and these are the pathways that the dormice use to get from one feeding area to another.


Many thanks again to Bengt Lundberg and the BBC Website for this lovely photograph. For those of you not living in the UK, this is our beautiful dormouse with lovely golden fur and a furry tail. They are very small, only about 4 or 5 inches long, including the tail and live where there is oak, hazel, honeysuckle and bramble, which we have in abundance, feeding on nuts,  fruit and the pollen from flowers. It sleeps during the day and hibernates from October to April. We were so lucky to find 2 nests when we were tidying at the back of borders, the first one in 2010 had a dormouse in it, it was quickly returned to where I found it and the second was in the summer of 2011 and was empty,  I’m not so tidy now!  We also saw one when we were watering the strawberries in 2011 and one rather wet dormouse jumped out, we don’t know if it was sleeping there or was having a good feed and had forgotten to go home!

So, their homes are ready for them, if any decide to hibernate early. They were put up early enough for them to get used to them and for them to hopefully lose the human smell. We may have one occupied this winter if we are very lucky, once we know a box is occupied by a hibernating dormouse, they must not be disturbed and we have been asked to inform the Devon Wildlife Trust in case they wish to monitor them. I hope you would agree that such a lovely creature is worth protecting and deserves a home to safely hibernate  in.


This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Dormice homes are up and ready!

  1. pbmgarden says:

    Fascinating Pauline. Hope your get some happy boarders for your efforts.

  2. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    I do hope you get some little visitors in your boxes… Oh to have a licence to hold one! Have you seen the youtube clip on someone holding one and it’s snoring its head off? (I assume it’s held legally with someone allowed to do so) Actually I just had a look and there’s a few videos of Dormice snoring.

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Liz, I can’t say that the first one I found was snoring, but it looked so cute all curled up in its perfect sphere of interwoven grass, if only I had stopped to take a photo! As soon as I saw the dormouse in its nest, I realised that I shouldn’t be touching it and put it back where I had got it from, covering it up with the bits and pieces that it was under at the back of the border. If we do get any and Devon Wildlife Trust come to monitor them, I will be ready with the camera this time!
      Unfortunately I haven’t see the youtube clip, but will try and find it now, thanks!
      I’ve found them Liz, how wonderful, aren’t they cute, no mine definitely wasn’t snoring, thank you so much!!

  3. Gitte says:

    How nice that you have nesting boxes set up for the mice. They look cute, and you´re right, we must protect the endangered animals.

    • Pauline says:

      It seemed the obvious thing to do Gitte when we heard that the trees and hedge might be cut down, and they will be a lot safer in the boxes than just on the ground, under a hedge. Thanks for agreeing, we must protect these animals before it is too late for them.

  4. Caro says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Pauline, that our little dormice should be protected. I do hope that the homes you’ve provided are useful to them. It’s horrendous to think that the commercial world is impacting so much on our wildlife; no doubt the penny will drop when it’s too late so everything we can do, however small, to help sustain wildlife is well worthwhile. I’ve found your post very interesting reading, thank you!

    • Pauline says:

      Caro, I hope they like them too, I would imagine that only one will get used if we are lucky, but at least we have given them a choice!
      Far too much building is going on in the countryside here, a whole new town has been built only 10 minutes away, housing 3000/4000 people. Where are all these people coming from? This was all farmland a few years ago, now all roads, concrete and houses!
      My little effort might not seem much but I hope it makes a difference.

  5. Christina says:

    Good work Pauline. I was listening to a podcast the other day and was really distressed to hear how many species are being lost; you hear about the big animals and everyone rallies around pandas and other big cuties but apparently frogs and other amphibians are rapidly declining, not to mention bees etc. What are we doing to our world? This past century we seem to have destroyed so much with most people being unaware of what is happening. I do hope your dormice take up residence in their start new homes.

    • Pauline says:

      We both feel the same Christina, if we all do what we can, surely it will make a difference. Programmes on TV are highlighting the problems with some species and the government is at last starting to listen where the problem with bees is concerned. The few pesticides that are left for gardeners to use are being banned for the next few years to see if the bee population will increase, I do hope it does. The human race has a lot to answer for.
      I think we will have to be patient where our dormice are concerned, it will be wonderful if one takes up residence!

  6. Smashing. What a rare creature to have in your garden. I’ve never seen one and would have been so thrilled to have one jump out of my strawberry patch. Well done putting up so many nestboxes for them and I hope you get your own good photo of one! Dave

    • Pauline says:

      David, I hope one day, to have my own photo of one, that would be wonderful. I’ll have to be patient and just wait and see if any of the boxes get used. Let’s just hope that the new cat next door doesn’t find them!

  7. Cathy says:

    I do hope some move in and make a little colony eventually! (Just hope they can’t get into your kitchen!) 😉 By the way, the youtube clip link is at the bottom of the post I did on our dormice last week. I think ours sleep a bit longer – they say seven months as the German name is “seven-sleeper” (Siebenschläfer), but they often sleep from September until April.

    • Pauline says:

      I think we are quite safe from invasion Cathy as they are a different species altogether from yours, and don’t come anywhere near houses, they are very much a rare country animal with numbers declining all the time, living in hedges and trees.To try and stop numbers falling even further there are now lots of laws protecting the animal and its habitat, even so, some developers would still rather pay the fine when they knowingly cut down trees and hedges. Your species was introduced here ( why, I have to ask!) in the Chiltern Hills and they are gradually spreading and becoming a problem in the lofts of houses where they are causing all sorts of damage. They are much larger and not the beautiful golden colour of our native dormouse.

  8. Cathy says:

    I am so pleased that the feared removal of trees and hedges hasn’t taken place, Pauline – it must have been a worrying time for you, and I hope your new neighbours turn out to be as environmentally aware as you are. It was fascinating reading about your dormice – and the German ones! It would be lovely to know some (British!) ones were hibernating in your boxes…..

    • Pauline says:

      The Glis Glis from Europe Cathy, wouldn’t fit through the holes in the boxes, they are just the right size for our native dormice, about the same size for a blue tit nest box. I put some hazel nuts out yesterday on the bank, near a box, they were all gone by this morning. Hmm…..maybe a squirrel found them. Tonight I will put some more out about 9pm when hopefully all little squirrels are safely tucked up in bed!

  9. Anna says:

    So glad to read that there has not been as much upheaval in the immediate neighbourhood as you feared Pauline. Hope that these gentle little creatures find their way to the winter sanctuaries that you have provided. Do keep us posted.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Anna, I will certainly keep you posted. I keep looking at the house that has been built up by our fruit and veg garden, it is so close to the trees and hedge. I hope they don’t cut the trees down, but if they were going to, they would have done so before building wouldn’t they? I hope they have taken note of what we said at the planning meeting. At the first sound of a chainsaw, I will be out there!

  10. Wendy says:

    What a lovely post! How wonderful that you have these special little creatures in your garden and that you’re caring for them by helping with their habitat and hibernation. I hope they find your boxes. It must have been a real delight to find them in your garden in the first place.

    • Pauline says:

      Wendy, we too hope that they will decide to use the boxes, that would be wonderful! The first one I found was an amazing moment, when picking up the winter rubbish from the back of the border, I found a perfect sphere of interwoven grass, about the size of a large orange. Turning it round to try and see what it could be, I discovered a split, and there inside was a hibernating dormouse! Hastily putting it back, as I realised I shouldn’t be touching it without a licence,I just wish I had stopped for a second and taken a photo!!

  11. Lyn says:

    How exciting! I do hope some dormice move in for the winter.

  12. Alberto says:

    Hi Pauline, I wonder how you will understand the box is ‘in use’ since dormice are so elusive creatures… I really hope you will find out a way and maybe document it for us. We have dormice here too but they are grey-ish I think and they ought to be bigger than yours. Dad used to have them nested on the roller blinds box, where we often find gathered hazelnuts and walnut from the trees around the house…

    • Pauline says:

      Good to have you back Alberto! I think your Dormice are what we call Edible dormice or Glis Glis, they were introduced into England by someone, goodness knows why in 1902! Your ancestors, the Romans,a couple of thousand years ago, apparently used to keep them in large jars to fatten them up before eating them!! They are grey and a lot larger than our native species.
      The boxes open at the top, so we will be able to see if we have any tenants, but they mustn’t be disturbed. If there are any in the box, we will contact Devon Wildlife Trust to see if they want to monitor them. I will keep you all up to date with any findings, empty boxes or not.

  13. Kate says:

    Good luck, Pauline – I do hope your lovely boxes are put to good use and that the cat/fox potential problem doesn’t materialise. I’m sure you’re increasing the chances of success with so many boxes, and so well placed. Fingers crossed!

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Kate, the last few nights, I have put a few hazel nuts out, half way up a bank, very near where one of the boxes is, and now each morning, they have gone! To start with I put them there while it was still light, so thought that maybe squirrels were taking them when they were gone by next day. But now, just before I go to bed, there I am with my torch making my way up the garden and pushing behind the bushes. It could of course be mice, voles or shrews which we have, I will just have to wait and see if they tempt a dormouse to use the box!

  14. debsgarden says:

    I think this is the first time I have seen a photo of a door mouse. It is a very cute creature. I hope your nesting boxes will soon have tenants, and I hope the cat and the fox find their meals elsewhere!

    • Pauline says:

      They are cute aren’t they Deb, such lovely tiny creatures. Hopefully they will decide to hibernate here over the winter, in our boxes, I must be patient!

  15. Diana Studer says:

    I had thought that dormice build their nests on the ears of wheat. A tinier furrier version of the nests our weaver birds build?

    • Pauline says:

      Diana, I’m afraid you are confusing them with the field or harvest mouse which lives in crops of wheat, corn or barley, making their nests in amongst the stalks. The dormouse lives in woodland, especially hazel woodland because it loves the hazel nuts so much and spends most of its waking hours in the treetops or in hedges. The dormouse nests are found either on or near the ground with special larger ones made from honeysuckle bark and grass for giving birth to offspring. The field mouse is dark grey/brown in colour and the dormouse is golden but the main difference is the tail which is furry in the dormouse and bald in the field mouse. The field mouse or harvest mouse is a cousin of the rat and the dormouse is a cousin of the squirrel, hence the furry tail !

Comments are closed.