Dormice at Hatchlands Park
Over the last year or so we’ve been looking into the possibility that dormice have been making their home at Hatchlands. We’re delighted to have discovered and confirmed that this is the case. We’re now embarking on a project to assist these lovely creatures in finding comfortable and cosy locations in which to dwell.
Hazel dormice are under threat. Changes in woodland management, farming practices, loss of hedgerows and the fragmentation of woodland have all taken a toll on their living space. They’re a protected species in Britain and regarded by government as a priority for conservation action.
We’ve long suspected that we might have an established population of dormice at Hatchlands. Because dormice are so rare you’re highly unlikely to see one in the wild and they must only be touched by licensed handlers.
Their preferred habitat of dense, deciduous woodland, coppice and thick shrubbery is a feature of our parkland and woodland. Having discovered a number of pieces of evidence as well as a sighting of a Dormouse in the flesh, an expert from the Surrey Dormouse Group has confirmed that our furry friends are indeed making their home here.
What we’re doing to help
The next step in our dormouse project involves helping them to thrive by providing nesting boxes. Initially we’ll be installing 50 boxes across areas of our woodland, forming our first dormouse transect at Hatchlands Park.
Our ranger Francisco Martinez, who’s on his way to becoming a licensed dormouse handler, will be working closely with the Surrey Dormouse Group. They’re helping us to install the boxes and carry out monthly surveys. Surrey Dormouse Group is also in contact with the People Trust for Endangered Species and Natural England. With each survey they’ll be entering online records for the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme and recording one off sightings on the National Dormouse Database.
Sponsor a box
We now have 50 nesting boxes kindly made by Chris Batterley, a volunteer at nearby Landbarn Farm. Members of the Surrey Dormouse Group will be back onsite in the near future to carry out their installation in suitable locations.
To help us support the project we’re offering our visitors and local dormouse lovers the opportunity to sponsor a box for just £20 per year. Your sponsorship will provide more boxes as well as covering survey costs and future training. This is a programme that we hope will last for many years.
You’ll receive monthly updates telling you about the inhabitants of your box - which we hope will be dormice but may also be birds, insects, bats or other small mammals - as well as an overview on what’s happening in the project as a whole.
To get involved and sponsor a box you can talk to our team at visitor reception or get in touch with our ranger Fran for more information.