On Dartmoor, Castle Drogo and some other properties around the country the National Trust takes part in the annual Dormouse survey for the Peoples Trust of Endangered Species (PTES) taking the form of monthly checks between the 15th and 25th of each month between April and October.
In Hembury woods our management has helped produce a healthy population of dormice. To get to handle how they are getting on which helps us make sure our management is working we have 64 boxes spread through areas within the woods. These boxes are then used by the dormice for breeding, shelter, resting and hibernating this not only benefits the dormice by providing them with custom built ‘designer’ homes but it also means we can then find these elusive little creatures to survey them.
It is important to note that dormice are an endangered species and we have 2 staff and 1 volunteer who are specially trained and licenced by Natural England to undertake survey work. When we find dormice in a box, we weigh them; note their sex, and other points of interest this all gets put onto a form which is sent to the PTES at the end of the year. They collate the data returns from woods all over the country and come up with annual figures for how dormice are doing nationally.
Here are a few photos of our surveying in May
Later in the year we do find adults with young at various stages of growth. Box checking can be quite chaotic when you open up a box to find 2 adults and 5 active young!