The hazel dormouse (or common dormouse) is one of 29 different species of the rodent, but the only one native to the British Isles. They hibernate from October to April, or sometimes even longer if the weather remains cool, to conserve energy at times when food is scarce. Their name comes from 'dormeus', which means sleepy.
In England and Wales they are mainly found in southern areas, but there are also small populations in mid Wales and the Lake District.
Dormice are becoming increasingly rare as their natural territory of hedgerows and woodland shrinks and dormouse-friendly habitats become isolated from each other. The animals are important indicators of the health and biodiversity of woodland and hedgerows, as they require plenty of insects, flowers, berries and the ability to travel.
We're actively working to maintain and improve the hedgerows alongside canals, including on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, as well as installing dormouse boxes to provide secure nesting places for these animals.