FOR the first time ever an elusive mammal has been discovered on a nature reserve near Malvern.

Staff and volunteers discovered evidence of dormice at Hollybed Farm Meadows near Castlemorton. 

The team found footprints of the elusive small mammal in a harmless footprint trap.

Hazel dormice are protected by law but licensed surveyors can use a number of methods to capture the rare mammal. 

The nature reserve uses the traps to record the footprints of animals that pass through them and have been set up in several hedgerows around its 40 acres on land.

Tomos Holloway, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s reserves officer said: "This is such exciting news.

Malvern Gazette: Dormouse footprints. picture credit: Dave SmithDormouse footprints. picture credit: Dave Smith

"We had previously put up nesting tubes to survey for them from 2016 to 2019 but found no evidence.

"Not to be deterred, we tried again this year and have been delighted with the results!

“We’ve known for a little time that dormice are in the area and were really hoping that our sensitive management of hedgerows on and around our nature reserve would encourage them onto our land.

"We’re restoring the meadows at Hollybed but it isn’t all about the wildflowers in the fields; the whole nature reserve and, hopefully, the wider area need to work together as one large unit in order to maximise the benefit to wildlife and to us."

Dormice are known for being sleepy creatures and can spend more than seven months of the year in hibernation in trees or hollows in the ground. The mammals eat nuts, berries, insects and flowers which can be commonly found in hedgerows. 

Mr Holloway said: "Now that we know they’re in one section of hedgerow, we’re excited to continue working with our licensed surveyor, Dave Smith, to see if they can be found across more of the site.

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“It’s great to know that we’ve been able to provide more habitat in the area for them and we hope that both they and other wildlife will thrive in this beautiful little corner of Worcestershire.”