TWENTY new starter homes have been erected almost overnight on the land owned by Lynchmere Society – and there hasn’t been a single complaint.
This is probably because they are homes for dormice, one of the most protected animals in the country.
The site has now become one of more than 250 recorded sites managed by the PTES (People’s Trust for Endangered Species) and many of the dormice in different sites may be related as they can travel around seven kilometres over a two-week period to find new homes. They are slow reproducers, having only one or two litters a year with four to six young, many of whom do not make it to adulthood because of warm winters disturbing their hibernation period or wet summers making feeding tricky despite their wide range of accepted feeding stuffs.
The 20 boxes, which look similar to bird boxes but which have their entrance next to the branch to which they are fixed, were made by inmates of Doncaster Prison.
Members of the Lynchmere Society were led by Jim Jones, wetland landscapes officer of the Surrey Wildlife Trust and dormouse expert, to a suitably hazel-filled part of the commons where they fixed the boxes to the trees.
An earlier expedition had ascertained this area had dormice living there because dormouse-chewed nuts were found. It is hoped the new homes will encourage more to move in.