Killerton's Dormouse Monitoring Programme

Did you know that we have a healthy population of Dormice at Killerton? The rangers are working hard to ensure our furry neighbours can thrive.

At Killerton, we have 100 dormouse nest boxes spread across the estate. These help us to monitor the dormouse. They are surveyed once a month between April and October when the mice are active. We are lucky enough to have some lovely hazel coppice stands around the estate – and these are great places to look for evidence of dormice. 

Evidence of dormice in the area

The dormouse nibbles the hazel nut in a very individual way – so when doing a nut hunt – you can quickly ascertain if dormice are present in an area. We carefully select work to improve their habitat. The dormouse likes to be high amongst tree branches, and rarely comes to the ground, we ensure that there are connecting branches above our heads so they can move around on their treetop canopies during their nocturnal activities. 

Dormouse box checks at Killerton, Devon
A ranger holding a dormouse during box checks at Killerton, Devon
Dormouse box checks at Killerton, Devon

Helping to improve their habitat

They prefer ancient woodland and hedgerows, and loss of this habitat is part of the cause for their decline. Here at Killerton, we are looking after our hedgerows and ancient woodland to help secure a home for this beautiful creature. We are also ensuring our woodlands and hedgerows all connect to each other, so populations don’t become isolated by planting new hedgerows and woodlands.

Coppicing

The Ranger team are using traditional forestry techniques of coppicing. This cycle of cutting and allowing to regrow increases woodland biodiversity, as greater amounts of light can reach the ground, allowing other species to grow there. Many of these species are food sources for butterflies and other insects, which in turn provide food for birds, bats and mammals, such as the dormouse. We are using the traditional rural skill of hedge-laying to ensure our hedges are free from gaps, dense in structure, and stock-proof. They then provide great food supplies and habitat for the dormouse.