The hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) is an arboreal species. Though often associated with hazel coppice, it is not restricted to this habitat; also turning up in woodlands, scrub and well established hedgerows in southern England and south and mid-Wales and, rarely, further afield.
Their range is mostly restricted to, though small strongholds are still found in elsewhere in the country, and reintroduction programmes are underway in support of this species in the midlands and the north.
Their population is declining in the UK due to the reduction and fragmentation of their habitat and as a result dormice and their habitats are legally protected at a national and European level. Where dormice are present, and suitable dormouse habitats are to be impacted by proposed developments, a development licence will be required and a suitable mitigation strategy devised and implemented.
As part of an ecological assessment of a site, any habitats considered suitable for dormice will require appropriate surveys to identify their presence and evaluate their population. Nut searches can be undertaken in areas of hazel to search for dormouse-gnawed nut shells. FPCR also commonly undertake nest tube surveys, whereby tubes are erected in suitable habitats and checked monthly by a licensed ecologist for the distinctively-constructed dormouse nest, or even a dormouse sighting. The “sleepy dormouse” enters a sleep-like torpor in winter so nest tube surveys are completed during their active season (April-October), taking up to six months to complete.