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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 16:29 GMT
Dormice make forest comeback
Evidence of more than 30 new habitats has been discovered
One of the UK's rarest mammals is flourishing in woodlands in west Wales.

A three-year survey by Forestry Commission Wales (FCW) has found evidence of more than 30 new dormice habitats around Llandovery.

Officers have been searching for partially eaten hazelnuts, the dormouse's favourite bedtime snack, and say the results are encouraging.

Now FCW plans to erect nest boxes and begin a long-term project to closely monitor the newly discovered populations.

These survey results are an encouraging sign that forest management is benefiting indigenous species
Conservation manager David Rees

Dormice are an endangered species protected by UK and European legislation.

They have disappeared from more than half of their historic breeding grounds in Britain.

Today their presence is restricted to parts of southern England and Wales.

First hand

David Rees, conservation manager for FCW, said work to protect their forest habitats is an important role played by the organisation.

He said: "Dormice are now being found in habitats that were once thought to be unsuitable.

Dormice details
The dormouse is a protected species
It feeds on berries, nuts, pollen and insects
It is arboreal, which means it tends to live in trees
There are 14 species of nocturnal dormice worldwide
The creatures resemble small squirrels rather than mice

"These survey results are an encouraging sign that forest management is benefiting indigenous species."

He said he hoped FCW would now work with a number of local wildlife trusts as part of the monitoring process, allowing trust members and volunteers to see the mice at first hand.

But people searching the forests for the tiny mammals which are orange-brown in colour will find little to see at the moment.

Dormice hibernate for up to eight months of the year to escape the cold and rain.

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