New homes for dormice at the gorge

Holnicote Ranger holding a sleeping dormouse

From listening to the Lydford rangers and talking to other experts we are hopeful that the gorge is already home to dormice as it has some great habitat. However to be sure the mice are here, and to be able to monitor whether the population is healthy, we need to be able to survey them. This is where the new dormice nest boxes come in.

A shiny new dormouse nest box constructed by Made-Well
One of the new dormouse nest boxes made by Made-Well

We have taken advice from our National Trust neighbours at Castle Drogo, who are already monitoring dormice, and decided that the best survey method for us would be to put out 50 nest boxes. Then, following the mammal society guidelines, these could be checked once a month from April to November. Data on weight, gender and age group from any dormice found would be recorded and sent to the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme. In order to do this type of survey anyone handling the dormice needs a licence granted by Natural England. 

Made-Well were asked for help with the project as they provide a wide range of constructive, purposeful and positive ‘day opportunities’ for people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental ill health diagnosis. One of the activities they offer is woodwork, and they bravely took on the challenge to make our new nest boxes.

Putting together one of the dormouse nest boxes
Putting together a dormouse nest box
A made-well volunteer sanding the edges of a dormouse box
A made-well volunteer sanding the edges of a dormouse box

To help cover the cost of the boxes and allow us to buy more we are going to be offering visitors and locals the chance to sponsor a box in return for updates on any wildlife that moves in, and we will also keep Made-Well updated on how their boxes are being used.