Baby dormice from across Kent’s woodlands are being rescued as ‘Operation Dormice Baby Rescue’ enters full swing this week.
These precious little babies, perhaps Britain’s most endangered species are being scoured for by dedicated volunteers and urgently rushed back to Wildwood Trust’s Dormouse Rescue Centre.
The Wildwood Trust conservation team are mounting a round the clock effort to welcome the dormice babies some as little as 6 days old and ensure their survival this winter.
A similar story has unfolded for many years as dormice sometimes have a second litter in late summer but if the weather becomes cold and wet the chances of survival for the late babies are very small. This is perhaps one of the many wildlife calamities that could pan out as global warming effects the wildlife of Britain.
But from this tragedy comes a ray of hope, Wildwood Trust's conservationists provide the warmth, sustenance and specialist care to keep these babies alive throughout the winter. These animals then enter our conservation breeding centre and their offspring form part of our efforts to reintroduce them to woodlands across the UK where they have gone extinct.
The Wildwood dormouse rescue centre is the biggest of its kind in the UK and the Canterbury based charity are very proud of their efforts in rescuing and breeding dormice for release.
Hazel Ryan, Wildwood's Senior Conservation Officer said,
"We work tirelessly to protect these animals and are proud that we play such a major role to reintroduce the Hazel Dormouse back to areas where they have become extinct. Wildwood is not only one of the leading dormouse breeders in the UK but is also an important centre for research into the behaviour and captive husbandry of the species."
"The hazel dormouse is now classed as extremely vulnerable to extinction but through projects such as this, Wildwood hopes to tip the balance back in favour of the dormouse."
Three litters have already been rescued and more are on their way as volunteers across Kent are checking for babies that are under weight.https://youtu.be/
Usually dormice only have one litter of young per year. We think that many dormice have had a second litter this year because we have had a warm autumn and there is more fruit and nuts available on the trees. Second litters often don’t survive especially if the you are underweight. It is thought that young dormice need to be a minimum of 15g at this time of year to be heavy enough to survive winter hibernation. These are only 6.5-7g each. Also if we have a cold snap the mother may go into hibernation leaving them to fend for themselves and they would not survive as they are not weaned.
Dormice are just one of the many endangered and nationally extinct animals that can be seen by visitors to Kent's unique conservation wildlife park. Wildwood offers its members and visitors a truly inspirational way to learn about the natural history of Britain by actually seeing the wildlife that once lived here, like the wolf, bear, beaver, red squirrel, wild boar and many more. To visit us go to www.wildwoodtrust.org or telephone 01227 712111.