Little prints are telling our Wildlife Monitors an interesting story about dormice at Awnells Farm, Herefordshire.

Once upon a time dormice were found from the south coast to the Scottish border with the exception of Norfolk and Northumberland, however nowadays they can be found predominantly in the south England and Wales and, where dormice remain, their distribution is patchy.

Using footprint tunnels supplied by Dave Smith (Masters Student), CRT Wildlife Monitor Ruth Moss, is able to track the presence of dormice in two of the hedgerows on the farm.

Footprint tunnels are tubes which contain a piece of card with ‘ink’ pads (made of charcoal powder and vegetable oil) at either end. Ruth and Dave positioned the tubes at roughly 20 paces apart and at chest height along the chosen hedges – tied onto horizontal branches with gardening wire. Dormice walk over the ink and onto the card, recording their presence even if it was a fleeting visit.

By using the tunnels, we can work out which hedges are used by dormice and manage them appropriately. For example, alternately trimming each side of the hedge on a 3-year rotation. By working out where on the farm dormice are present we can identify any potential obstructions/hindrance to their dispersal and think up solutions on how to tackle these, like gapping up a hole in a hedge to improve connectivity.

We cannot thank Dave enough for lending us these tunnels and helping us understand the dormice presence on Awnells Farm. This research also aids David in his master’s research project that investigates which types of hedges are used by dormice.

By Ruth Moss, CRT Wildlife Monitor