by Nina Troughton October 2012
An endangered species living in our midst
The common dormouse is alive and well and living in a hedgerow near you. We have conclusive evidence of dormouse activity opposite Paradise Park and along to the South edge of St Anne’s close.
Around 8 or 9 years ago we used to see a dormouse climbing around in the hedge on the opposite side of the road from Paradise Park, it was seen regularly in the evening near its nest which was wrapped around a long honeysuckle stem that hung precariously away from the hedge. Sadly the nest and the dormouse disappeared when a tractor trimmed the hedge and we never saw it again.
At the beginning of September my husband John found some hazelnut shells on the pavement, some had obviously been taken by squirrels but a couple had small holes gnawed in the side. I found pictures on the internet of hazelnut shells eaten by different mammals but managed to convince myself that they'd been eaten by a wood mouse. A week later we found more shells in a different location, this time I managed to find a dormouse monitor in the Launceston area called Jen Bousefield, I sent all of the shells off to her for verification and she rang me to say they were indeed eaten by dormice. She'd checked the National Dormouse Database which revealed that a few years ago an entry was made for sightings in Swannacott Wood, but there was nothing else for the Whitstone area.
Jen has sent the evidence along with location details and map references off to the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. She suggested I log the details on the National Database and she also suggested informing the Parish Council in the hope that local landowners might be persuaded to leave their hedge trimming until later in the Autumn and possibly not trim them back quite so hard, this would leave more food on the hedgerows, not only for the dormice, but also for the struggling bird population.
We are all extremely privileged to have these adorable little mammals living in and around the village, I just hope we can all do our bit to help them survive in a time when species are disappearing at an alarming rate.