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Dormouse Surveys


The dormouse inhabits deciduous woodland, hedgerows and scrub vegetation, often with a high proportion of Hazel. Their distribution in the UK is largely limited to the south of England and Wales. If you plan to develop a site containing suitable habitat and with historic records of dormice nearby, you will likely require a dormouse survey.

Over the past 100 years, this species has declined dramatically in numbers and distribution, at one point being declared extinct in up to 8 counties. Its decline is thought to be the result of a combination of habitat loss and changes in woodland and hedgerow management.

There are a number of techniques commonly used for surveying this species, some being more effective than others. At JCA a combination of two survey techniques are used to determine presence/absence of this species.

View our Ecology Survey Calendar to plan your Dormouse surveys.

Initial Survey:

A visual survey is first undertaken, looking for evidence of dormouse activity. This involves a search of suitable habitat, looking for nests and opened hazel nuts. Dormice leave unique marks on shells of hazel nuts, which make them distinguishable from nuts opened by other mammals. This method can be carried out between September and December and positive result in a visual survey may require additional surveys to be carried out.

Should Dormice be found at a site, JCA can provide advice on how best to proceed with development.

Nesting Survey:

Nest boxes and tubes can be used to survey for dormice. Survey techniques involve positioning a large number of boxes and/or tubes within the vegetation on site for several months. Checking is undertaken at monthly intervals to establish an estimated population size.

Dormice and the Law:

Hazel dormice are protected under both Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 and theĀ Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Under these pieces of legislation it is an offence to:

  • Deliberately kill or capture a dormouse.

  • Deliberately disturb a dormouse.

  • Damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of a dormouse.

  • Keep, transport, sell or exchange, or offer for sale or exchange a live or dead dormouse or any part of a dormouse..

  • Therefore, if dormice are present at a site the appropriate Natural England Licence must be obtained and mitigation put in place. This mitigation must ensure the continued favourable conservation status of the species.

    Dormouse survey timeline

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We were more than happy with the help given by JCA and specifically the guidance Andrew gave us, he has pulled out all the stops to prepare something for us in a very short space of time!

Lydia Morrow, Buro Four, London


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