Belongs to: rodents

Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius

Also known as: hazel dormouse

only a few Essex sites


Best time to see: mid Apr to mid Oct

Key facts

Once common small woodland animal now very scarce: nestboxes have been put up in many woodlands to help it recover

Habitat: broadleaved or mixed woodland, preferably coppiced and with hazel and honeysuckle

Native of southern Britain and western Europe, but now only a handful of sites in Essex

Recognition

Rich orange-brown with a furry tail; head/body 6–8.5cm, tail as long again

Strictly nocturnal and rarely leaves the trees

Eats nuts, seeds, fruit and some insects; leaves hazel nuts with a characteristic hole gnawed in the side

Lifecycle

Builds a nest, often including shredded honeysuckle bark, close to ground level; will also use nest boxes

1–2 litters a year of 3–5 young, born blind and helpless

Hibernates from autumn to spring, underground or in holes

  • Main photo

Photo © Chris Gibson/English Nature