Dormice in Danger, But New Babies Bring a New Hope…
Wildwood Trust celebrated the birth of more dormice this July after a successful reintroduction to a secret site in Warwickshire. Continued monitoring of their nest box has shown how quickly the babies have grown within just one month and that all are healthy. Recent reports show the dormouse to be one of Britain’s rarest mammals and could soon be threatened with extinction as numbers have plummeted by 70% in the last 20 years.
Video footage taken this week shows our family of dormice fully settled into their nest box just one month after the birth of new baby dormice at Wildwood.
The hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) was once widespread across England and Wales. But with the loss of woodland and hedgerows populations have rapidly declined.
Wildwood Trust is the UK’s leading charity in captive breeding dormice for release into the wild to help to combat this decline, and have bred hundreds of dormice over the last 15 years.
The Wildwood team recently celebrated reintroducing 18 of our dormice, nearly half the total number released, to a secret woodland site in Warwickshire as part of a continuing project to help protect the species from extinction.
Working alongside other conservation organisations, including the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Paignton Zoo, Natural England and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, this recent release is the latest in the scheme which aims to increase dormice numbers in areas of the UK where the species is in decline. It is hoped that this latest release group will eventually link up with another population released last year in a nearby area.
Each year Wildwood supplies captive-bred dormice for the release programme and, as studbook holder for the species, selects and pairs up the animals for release, thus ensuring the strongest genetic mix for future generations.
To ensure the dormice are successful, the woodland is carefully managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to provide suitable food and shelter, whilst the animals are introduced via a "soft-release" system. Initially they are housed in cages with adequate food and water before the cage door is opened after a few days. The cage is topped up with supplies allowing the dormice to come and go at will without having to fend for themselves immediately after release. This supports the dormice as they become integrated into the area and gives them the best possible start in their new woodland home.
Hazel Ryan, Wildwood's Senior Conservation Officer & leading dormouse expert said "Our babies are looking very healthy and will form a major part of next year’s reintroduction, helping prevent further decline or even extinction. We hope that with continued releases and careful habitat management we can help to expand their range and bring hazel dormice back to areas where they once thrived."
Wildwood Trust opened in 1999 as a centre of excellence for the conservation of British wildlife, and was established as a registered charity in 2002. Wildwood is Kent's best British wildlife park. Home to over 200 native animals, past and present and set in 40 acres of beautiful ancient woodland where visitors can see bears, wolves, bison, deer, owls, foxes, red squirrels, wild boar, lynx, wild horses, badgers and beavers plus many more. As one of the leading British animal conservation charities in the UK, Wildwood Trust is dedicated to saving Britain's most threatened wildlife. Wildwood Trust have taken part in many ground-breaking conservation programmes to date, which include, saving the water vole, using wild horses to help restore Kent's most precious nature reserves, bringing the extinct European beaver back to Britain and returning the hazel dormouse & red squirrel to areas where they have been made extinct.
Wildwood Trust Herne Common Herne Bay Kent CT6 7LQ