Deirdre the Dormouse

  • Landing on top of this nest box is quite trick - needs all my aerobatic skills. Whoops!

  • Yawn…who’s that rattling my roof? Go away.… I’m still asleep.

  • It’s spring time – time for tasty little dormice to wake up!

  • I don’t want to get up yet, I’m still hibernating. And I’m too comfortable in my cosy nest box. Those nice Rangers put it up for me, you know.

  • They don’t put up houses for me

  • Well you’re not as rare as I am. There aren’t many places left where we can live, you know. And anyway, humans seem to like us, because we’re round and furry and we look cute and cuddly. Country people used to keep us as pets, you know.

  • Cute and cuddly! You’re making me hungry. Why don’t you come out so I can see you!

  • Bad luck, Buzz, I only come out at night. I’m nocturnal, you know. You won’t catch me. It’s owls, not buzzards, that I have to look out for!

  • So, Deirdre, you’ve been asleep for the whole winter…

  • Correct. That’s what hibernating means, you know.

  • I know what it means. But how on earth do you manage it? I can only go a few days without a meal. In fact I’m rather peckish just now.

  • Well, in the autumn we eat lots of fatty food – hazelnuts are our favourite, you know. You’ve probably seen the piles of shells we leave lying around, with little holes in them where we’ve nibbled through.

  • Yes, that’s about all I’ve ever seen of dormice.

  • Anyway, with all this food, we put on lots of weight. Then we curl up in our little round nests (or nestboxes if we’re lucky) and settle down for the long, deep sleep. Our bodies slow right so we hardly use any energy, and we don’t need to eat. We just gradually use up the extra fat. So we keep going all winter, but when we wake up in spring we’re thin and very hungry.

  • Hungry. Hmmm. I know what you mean. So what do you eat, apart from nuts.

  • Fruit, when it’s there, and flowers. Honeysuckle flowers are my favourite. And, you know, the bendy stems of the honeysuckle make very good nesting material.

  • Flowers. Delightful. And where do you go searching for this food?

  • All around the woodland, wherever the flowers and fruit are growing. Dormice are good climbers, you know. The woods are busy at night time, lots of small mammals come out and feed then. Even the owls have difficulty spotting us hidden amongst the foliage in spring and summer. And other predators (such as buzzards, you know) are asleep at night.

  • All right, Deirdre, you win. You dormice are cleverer than you look! I must fly. I can see I’ll have to find my dinner somewhere else.