Ecology

Appearance

The hazel dormouse is distinctly different from other small mammals being the only British species* with a bushy or feathery tail. Adult dormice often have sandy or golden-brown pelage. However, juveniles lack the identifying colour of the adults and tend to be duller and greyer in colouration.

A small population of the dormouse population have white tips to their tails. These tips can range from a few white hairs, to white tips of 5mm-7mm in length. On rare occasions, dormice have been recorded with white tips of 10mm or more in length.

Adult dormice typically range between 6cm-9cm in length (excluding the tail). The body weight can fluctuate significantly throughout the year, enabling the dormice to accumulate fat reserves prior to hibernation. Adult dormice typically range between 15g & 30g. The heaviest dormouse recorded in Nottinghamshire so far was a whopping 38g!

*excludes larger mammals such as squirrels & the larger, non-native edible dormouse.

Habitats

Dormice are primarily a woodland species, and are mostly associated with deciduous or mixed woodland. However, the species has been recorded in a range of habitats including hedgerows, coniferous woodland, coastal blackthorn scrub, orchards and gardens, reedbeds, tussocky grassland and even along motorway verges and central reservations.

As a sequential feeder, dormice require a high diversity of tree and scrub species in order to survive. As such, optimal dormouse habitat needs to contain a rich community of plant species to ensure the continual supply of suitable food items throughout the changing seasons.

Dormice are, for the most part, an arboreal species and spend much of their active period off the ground, whether in scrub, hedgerows or the tree canopy. They rarely travel along the woodland floor and instead choice to traverse along interconnecting branches and other linear features.

Dormice do not typically travel very far from their daytime nest, therefore their immediate habitat should not only support a diverse plant flora but also contain plentiful inter-digitating branches to meet the dormouse’s dietary requirements within a short distance.