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Video: How, thanks to prisoners, thousands of rare hazel dormouse received houses
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-24 13:10
This summer was an incredibly important event for the People's Endangered Species Fund (PTES). This event was the 1000th Hazel Dormouse, raised in captivity and released into the wild. All this happened in full accordance with the scheme of reintroduction of these furry cuties. The most interesting thing is that not quite ordinary people contributed to the success of this campaign. How PTES teamed up with a local prison to save a rare species from extinction is further in the review.
Hazel dormouse in Great Britain is often called simply "dormouse". This is the only species of these cutest animals that is not imported from somewhere, but lives in the British Isles. In 2010, a hazel dormouse was discovered in County Kildare. In general, these adorable creatures apparently thrive in Ireland due to the abundance of hedges there.
Sleepyheads are very small. Their body is only about 10 centimeters long. The tail is from 5 to 8 centimeters. They have tiny black beads of eyes, small ears. The fur of these pussies is mostly reddish brown, turning into golden brown on the tummy. In the summer, dormouse weighs about 20 grams. In winter, the weight of the animal doubles, because you need to survive hibernation without problems.
These cuties usually live in and around trees. They are very wary of running on the ground. Dormouse's diet consists mainly of berries, nuts, fruits, as well as aphids and caterpillars. For example, a nut with a neat round hole in its shell is a clear sign that these fluffy adorable are wielding somewhere nearby. They like to eat them this way, unlike squirrels and birds, which split the shell or punch a more jagged hole.
Besides hibernating from October to April or May, dormouse can also spend some time numb during the summer months. This happens when the weather is particularly cold and humid. It can also happen when there is a shortage of food. The fact that the dormouse spends most of its life in a dream explains both its name and the many images of this animal, touchingly curled up in a ball.
Unfortunately, the loss of forest habitats, as well as global warming, have proven to be a serious threat to this entire species. A 2020 study found that their numbers have declined 51% over the past 20 years, and they have virtually become extinct in 17 counties in England.
As part of its Back on Our Map (BOOM) reintroduction scheme, PTES has been conducting it annually for hazel dormice since 1993. BOOM is a collaborative effort between PTES, the University of Cumbria and the Morecambe Bay Partnership to restore extinct or endangered animal species across the UK.
However, the success of a reintroduction scheme depends on a suitable habitat in which the animals can live. Therefore, PTES has selected areas with good forest management practices. In a PTES press release, Jim Turner, Natural England Reserve Manager, said: “We know that hazel dormouse thrive in woodlands with a wide variety of tree species and ages. This helps provide this species with an abundance of food and ample nesting opportunities. The territory that was chosen for this noble purpose is simply perfect. Arnside and Silverdale are proud of their fantastic woodlands, which have been looked after by local landowners, conservationists, volunteers and forestry companies for many years.”
In June 2021, over a dozen pairs of dormouse were released in Arnside and Silverdale. Experts hope that these places of exceptional natural beauty in northern Lancashire and southern Cumbria will provide a wonderful new home for these animals. Before being released into the wild, each dormouse goes through a nine-week quarantine period. During this time, Zoological Society of London veterinarians conduct regular health checks.
As soon as the sleepyheads arrive in place, they are placed in special mesh cages. They are filled with the right mix of foliage, buds, berries, nuts, insects, and water, and this is where the animals will live for the first 10 days. The cages are placed on trees. Sonya gradually get used to the new environment. Local volunteers monitor each of these houses every day. Then they will observe the animals for another two years to make sure that all sleepyheads remain healthy.
Experts are very optimistic about the project. They believe that it will be successfully completed and the population of hazel dormouse will be fully restored.
Perhaps these animals are very small, but the project for their reintroduction is incredibly large. Its implementation was made possible by many months of fruitful and selfless cooperation of many organizations and funding from the National Heritage Fund.
Most unusual, PTES has also teamed up with the prisons in Doncaster and the Humber to give these tiny creatures a new home. Sonya usually build their nests from braided honeysuckle bark, fresh leaves and grass. They will now live in specially made PTES houses that resemble bird boxes. They not only provide alternative nesting sites for dormice when resources are scarce, but they also allow members of the National Monitoring Program to collect data from these boxes throughout the country.
The prisons have been participating in this program since 2010. As of May 2016, prisoners have created more than ten thousand houses for tiny adorable girls. They have been installed almost all over the country. Now the hazel dormouse, which has shrunk so dramatically over the past century that it has become critically endangered, has received long-awaited help. Collaboration with prisoners has proven to be an invaluable contribution to this important endeavor. This will help preserve the look.
For their community service, the inmates received an award from the National Offenders Service. They are all very proud of this achievement. In addition to helping to save the hazel dormouse from extinction, they also received the Judges' Gold Award. This is truly something to be proud of.
If you are interested in animals and ecology, read our article. how hedgehogs destroy New Zealand: the thorny enemies of the people.