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Hazel Dormouse

Dormouse 250The hazel dormouse has golden-brown fur and large, black eyes. It is a nocturnal creature and spends most of its waking hours among the branches of trees looking for food. It will make long detours rather than come down to the ground and expose itself to danger.

In winter (early October), the hazel dormouse will hibernate in nests beneath the leaf litter on the forest floor. When it wakes up in spring (late April or early May), it builds woven nests of shredded honeysuckle bark, fresh leaves and grasses in the undergrowth. If the weather is cold and wet, and food scarce, it saves energy by going into torpor; it curls up into a ball and goes to sleep. The hazel dormouse, therefore, spends a large proportion of its life sleeping − either hibernating in winter or in torpor in summer.

Examination of hazelnuts may show a neat, round hole in the shell. This indicates it has been opened by a small rodent, e.g., the dormouse, wood mouse, or bank vole. Other animals, such as squirrels or jays, will either split the shell completely in half or make a jagged hole in it.

Further examination reveals the inner rim of the hole has toothmarks, which are at an angle to the hole for the dormouse. The toothmarks are parallel with rough marks on the nut surface for a wood mouse; the bank vole leaves parallel grooves with no rough marks.

Photo © Jamie Edmonds
Text courtesy of Wikipedia