Dormouse conservation at Coed Y Bedw

Coed Y Bedw

Coed Y Bedw

Dormouse boxes by Tom Marshall

Dormouse boxes by Tom Marshall

Located 3km north of Cardiff, Coed Y Bedw is an ancient broadleaved woodland, consisting of various woodland types ranging from dry beech woodland to wet alder carr. Beneath the canopy, there is a diverse assemblage of shrubs and flowers, many of which are ancient woodland indicators such as spindle, wild garlic and bluebells.

This diversity of habitats supports a wide array of invertebrates, woodland birds and mammals including giant lacewings, wood warblers and badgers. However, one mammal species that has no yet been found at Coed y Bedw is the elusive dormouse. Dormice are distinctive sandy-coloured rodents with a thick furry tail and they are expert climbers. They are a nocturnal species that spends the winter in a deep torpor. Due to their elusive nature, their distribution isn’t as well known as other mammals; however they are concentrated in the south of the UK, probably because of climatic conditions. In South Wales, they are thinly spread across the country, with populations concentrated in Carmarthenshire and Gwent. They are present on a number of Wildlife Trust reserves where they are regularly monitored and the habitats managed to ensure that they can flourish. This means providing woodland and hedgerows with a rich understory to give them a varied food source of nectar, berries and invertebrates.

Despite the fact that there aren’t currently thought to be any present at Coed y Bedw, WTSWW have installed dormouse nest boxes which are regularly monitored by a dedicated volunteer, as well as carrying out woodland management to ensure that the reserve could support the species if they find their way there. This involves coppicing areas of hazel to ensure more light reaches the woodland floor which promotes the growth of ground flora and a diverse shrub layer. Coppicing on rotation improves the woodland structure and ensures that a mixture of woodland rides and glades are created and maintained for a range of wildlife, including (potentially!) dormice…