What is the legal status of the dormouse (Muscardinus arvellanarius)?
The dormouse is fully protected by the law from intentional killing, injuring, disturbing in their nest, collecting, trapping or selling, except under licence.
What do dormice look like and where do they live?
Dormice are small nocturnal mammals that only grow to between 60 and 90mm long. They usually have an orange/yellow-coloured fur, a thick bushy tail and are usually found in woodlands and overgrown hedges.
They spend most of their time foraging for food in the branches of trees away from the predators found on the ground below.
Dormice hibernate during the winter months but during the summer months they can lower their body temperature and go into torpor to conserve energy if the weather inhibits them from foraging.
How do they open hazelnuts?
The presence of dormice can be determined by looking at the nutshells present on the woodland floor.
Dormice have a characteristic way of opening shells such as hazelnuts. The hole in a nut opened by a dormouse has a smooth inner surface and bite marks only on the outer surface of the hole.
I've seen a dormouse, to whom should I send the record?
All recorded sighting should be sent to the Dorset Environmental Records Centre (DERC). They can be contacted on 01305 225081 and more information can be found on their website