NHBS Guide to Dormouse Survey Equipment

Dormice are a distinctive family of rodents, found widely across Eurasia and Africa. The Hazel Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) is a native British species which resides primarily in deciduous woodland. They are protected by EU law because of their rapidly declining numbers – studies suggest they have suffered a 72% population reduction in the last 22 years. Dormice are an important bioindicator as they are particularly sensitive to habitat and population fragmentation, so their presence is an indication of habitat integrity.

To enforce legal protection and ensure the success of conservation projects, current data about the distribution of Hazel Dormice is very important. A variety of survey equipment and methods can be used by licenced dormouse handlers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Nest Boxes

Perhaps the simplest survey technique to determine dormouse presence is searching for the nest box residents. Dormouse nest boxes are largely similar to standard bird boxes, but with the entrance hole facing the tree. Nest boxes can be important conservation tools as they can boost the local dormouse population density and aid re-introduction schemes.

The Standard Dormouse Nest Box is built from FSC softwood and has a removable lid with a wire closure for monitoring. This box can also come with a perspex inner screen allowing  surveyors to check the boxes inhabitants, without the risk of escape or  injury.

The more resilient Heavy Duty Dormouse Box is made from thicker  ¾” FSC marine plywood and is ideal for long-term monitoring projects. 

Dormouse Tubes

Dormouse nest tubes are a cheap, easy and popular method of determining the presence of dormice within a habitat. They can be an effective alternative to using wooden nest boxes.

The tubes consist of a wooden tray and a nesting tube. Dormice make their nests in the tubes and it is these that are used as indicators of their presence in the habitat. Nest tubes can be set up and checked without a licence until the first evidence of dormouse activity is found. After that, only a licensed handler can check them. For attaching to a tree, Hook and Loop Strapping is a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic cable ties, as they are reusable, reducing plastic waste.

Dormouse Footprint Tunnels

The latest dormouse surveying technique uses footprint tunnels. This technique was created by Suffolk Wildlife Trust with PTES funding and has since been recommended in the CIEEM magazine In Practice in September 2018.

It is a non-invasive survey technique, which does not require a licence as the chance of disturbing dormice is very low. The 40cm tube, houses a wooden platform which contains the charcoal ink and paper on which footprints are left. Compared with nest tube surveys, footprint tunnels can reduce the survey period required and provide an indication of the presence or likely absence of dormice at a site.

Dormouse Nut Hunting

Dormice leave very characteristic marks when they eat Hazel nuts. They gnaw a round hole in the shell leaving a smooth edge with very few teeth marks, unlike mice or voles. Systematic nut searches under Hazel trees are still regarded as one of the best survey techniques, only hand lenses and a keen eye are required.

Accessories and books

Below are some accessories and books that are commonly used for dormouse surveys and monitoring:

Small Mammal Holding Bag
£3.60
Pesola Light-Line Spring Scales
From £35.00

Pesola PTS3000 Electronic Scale

£126

Heavy Duty Extra-Large Polythene Sample Bags
£0.70 per bag

Animal Handling Gloves
£5.69 5.99

LED Telescopic Inspection Mirror
£11.99 

How to Find and Identify Mammals
£11.99

Britain’s Mammals: A field guide to the mammals of Britain and Ireland
£12.99

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Living with Dormice – Now in Stock at NHBS

The dormouse is one of the least seen but most loved of British animals. Dormice have always been portrayed as elusive, rare animals with specialised food requirements found only in large ancient woodlands.

Sue Eden was therefore surprised to find them nesting in the coastal scrub of her new garden. Her many years of ensuing research have led her to the conclusion that the dormouse is in reality a widespread, tough, opportunistic omnivore that appears just as at home in low coastal scrub and conifer plantations.

This fascinating new research, together with many colour photographs, provides an inspiration in the search for this appealing creature.

Living with Dormice is now in stock at NHBS – order your copy today

Also check out our selection of Dormouse Nest Tubes and Dormouse Nest Boxes

Browse other recent British Wildlife titles

Dormouse Nest Tubes New in Stock at NHBS

Dormouse Nest Tubes are now available from NHBS. These nest tubes provide a cheap and easy method of determining the presence of dormice within a habitat, and provide an effective alternative to using a large number of more expensive wooden nest boxes.

The dormouse nest tube consists of two parts – the wooden ‘tray’ and the ‘nesting tube’. The tray, made from 3-ply, fits securely inside the nesting tube (made from plastic tree guard material), with a wooden block sealing the tube at one end. Dormice make nests in these tubes, and it is these nests that are used as indicators of their presence in the habitat.

We supply the nest tubes as singles, and at discounted prices for 10’s and 100’s.

Find out more about dormice in Natural England’s Dormouse Conservation Handbook and the Mammal Society’s The Dormouse.

Also check out our sturdy wooden Dormouse Nest Box – ideal for long-term dormouse accomodation.

Browse Nest Boxes & Habitats for birds and mammals