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Dormice at Holmwood Common

Snoring dormouse at Holmwood Common, in Surrey
Snoring dormouse at Holmwood Common | © National Trust Images/Sophie Parker

Find out about the sleeping dormouse at Holmwood Common and how rangers gather important knowledge to help protect wildlife around the area. Learn more about the work done to save endangered species at this property in Surrey.

Searching for rare dormice

A snoring female dormouse caught cuddling her tail was found at Holmwood Common when checking the 50 dormouse nest boxes at the property in Surrey.

Under the supervision of licensed handlers from the Surrey Dormouse Group, the nest boxes are checked regularly to search for the elusive and rare hazel dormouse. Dormice are so elusive – everyone gets quite excited when one is found.

This one had just come out of hibernation in April and the first wisp of a nest could be seen in her box. She was about the size of an avocado nut and weighed 17g, which is normal for this time of year.

Protecting priority species

The dormouse was weighed and its sex checked before returning her to the nest box. The creatures are nocturnal and spend much of the day asleep, so are rarely seen. Hazel dormice are listed as a priority species in the government’s Biodiversity Action Plan and are protected by law.

Their numbers have declined as traditional woodland management techniques have died out and the dormice’s habitat has been lost.

A bench overlooking a pond, surrounded by green trees on a sunny day at Holmwood Common in Surrey
Holmwood Common in Surrey | © National Trust Images/Gary Coshan

Learning about the hazel dormice population

In 2016, Friends of Holmwood Common donated money for 50 nest boxes on the common, after volunteers from the group found a dormouse hibernating in dead leaves beneath the trees.

It was not thought there were any dormice at Holmwood. Typically, they are associated with hazel woodland, but this area is dominated by holly and beech. The team at Holmwood are regularly learning about the type of habitat that dormice like to live in.

The data collected on hazel dormice is submitted to the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme, run by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, to help monitor the national population.

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