The dormouse is one of the most distinctive small mammals native to Britain. It is easily recognised by its furry tail, sandy-orange coloured fur and bulging black eyes. Dormice are most commonly found in coppiced woodland and one of their names, the hazel dormouse, reflects their preference for hazel woods.
Dormice eat nectar, flowers, ash keys, berries, nuts and insects. During the day, they sleep in a nest in a tree. In contrast to their arboreal life in the summer, the winter months are spent in hibernation in woven nests at ground level. Hibernation is a strategy for saving energy at a time of year when food is scarce. Dormice are one of only three British mammals which hibernate; the other two are hedgehogs and bats.
Dormice are fully protected by law and even opening a dormouse nest box to see what is inside cannot be done without a licence. They are a UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species and a Local Priority Species in over 40 British counties, including Devon.