Devon dormouse pups bring hope for the species amidst covid restrictions
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The first ever litter of endangered hazel dormice pups has been born at wildlife conservation charity ‘Wildwood Escot’ in Devon.
The hazel dormouse is becoming a rarer sight, with populations dwindling since 2000 and a 51% decline in the UK since the millennium.
Habitat-loss and fragmentation, climate change and changes to woodland management practices are causing this little mammal to struggle for survival.
But a beacon of hope has been lit at Wildlife charity Wildwood in East Devon where four dormice pups have been born.
This is the first ever litter for the charity which is already running a facility to rescue and rehabilitate dormice.
These pups are an important part of the puzzle of dormice conservation work, where the goal is to breed more dormice for release into the wild in Devon and around the UK as part of Wildwood Escot’s dormouse conservation programme, in partnership with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group.
The Coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge for all wildlife conservation work, with most reintroductions postponed, travel to release or acquire new animals restricted.
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“Wildwood Escot would not be able to carry out this important work without the support of the public and we are now encouraging people to get involved, through the sponsorship of dormice nest boxes” said George Hyde, general manager at Wildwood Escot.
“In addition to providing vital support for our conservation work, sponsors will be able to follow the survey results on our website and see who’s living in their nest box.”
Dormice use nest boxes to raise their young, hibernate and they spend a great deal of time in them.
Surveying is key to conserving the dormouse, as the overall state of the population in Devon must be assessed and this is where nest boxes are essential.
Around 50 boxes will be included in the project and they will be placed in secret locations and regularly checked by licensed staff.
The data collected from the boxes will feed into a bigger national survey of hazel dormice.
Anyone can sponsor a nest box for £25.
For more information, visit https://wildwoodtrust.org/shop/adoptions/sponsor-a-dormouse-nest-box-devon/