Looking for dormouse footprints

Gwen Hitchcock, Monitoring and Research Officer, reports on the results from the footprint tunnel project

The results of a new project using footprint tunnels to survey for dormice at the edge of their range…

Following on from my request earlier this year, a dedicated team of local volunteers came together to install and monitor footprint tunnels in Brampton Ash Wood (same block as our Stoke Wood End Quarter nature reserve) this summer. Footprint tunnels are very successful at detecting the presence of dormice, even at low population densities.

Fifty-nine footprint tunnels were sited along the scrubby ride edges in locations we thought dormice would be likely to use and checked fortnightly from May to September. During each visit, the ink was refreshed and the footprint cards replaced as necessary. We encountered several issues over the summer from the ink drying too rapidly in the heatwave to slugs causing extensive damage to the card in the damper months! Over the four months of surveying we collected in 185 cards with footprints! With the help of volunteers all of these were carefully searched for any dormouse prints – they have a nicely distinctive footprint!

Sadly we didn’t find any dormouse prints, just lots of Apodemus mouse prints (most likely wood mouse) as well as some evidence of birds and invertebrates using the tunnels.

Whilst the trial failed to find any evidence of dormice still being present in this woodland the method of surveying was successful and we plan to use it at others sites in the future in an attempt to get a better picture of where these iconic and elusive species are on our patch.

For more detail on this years findings you can read the full report online. And if you're interested in heping us to roll out the project to other sites, we are looking for volunteers

 

footprints

Footprint tunnels report 2019