The common or hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) has traditionally been linked to hazel coppice and is well known as a mammal that lives in semi-natural broadleaved woodland. It is also known to use species-rich hedgerows and scrub which are well connected between suitable woodland habitats.
Nationally the dormouse is in decline, mostly due to habitat removal and fragmentation caused by urbanisation and associated developments. As a result the hazel dormouse is fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and survey efforts to monitor their populations within suitable habitats have become a necessity, especially for development sites.
There are a few ways of surveying for dormouse which include nest searches, hair tube surveys, live traps and dormouse nest boxes. However, the most commonly used surveys and cheapest are nest tube surveys. Nest tubes consist of a length of tubing made from light weight corrugated plastic and square in section together with a wooden tray which also forms the end of the tube.
Ecosulis have been involved with numerous nest tube surveys across the country.
A series of dormouse surveys on a site in West Sussex, had been undertaken during the survey season of 2014 (April to November). The site is proposed for residential housing. Ancient woodland is present on site with unbroken connectivity to adjacent suitable woodland in the wider environment. No dormice had been recorded during most site visits until the last survey visit of the year in November, when two very lively dormice were recorded emerging from one tube which had been installed on a stand of hazel, and scurried up into the hazel canopy!
With our advice, the developer has considered dormice as a material consideration within the future plans for the development, ensuring that the project can proceed and dormice remain protected.