Cheshire Dormouse Project

Spending seven months of the year asleep, the dormouse is one of our rarest and most secretive mammals. Last seen in the wild in Cheshire over a century ago, a new initiative has seen it make a return.

A partnership between Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England (formerly English Nature) the Cheshire Dormouse Project has brought this rare mammal back to the Cheshire countryside thanks to a re-introduction project, with Cheshire one of the first areas in the UK to be involved in this UK wide initiative.

Once widespread in its favoured woodland habitat, remaining dormouse populations- mostly in southern England, are scattered and isolated. The last known dormouse record from Cheshire was in 1910 near Nantwich, an area which has since been developed.

Read the project report from the Wych Valley (April 2012)

Key milestones:

  • 1996: first 29 captive-bred dormice released at secret location in south Cheshire – the mice benefit from the installation of 180 specially-designed nesting boxes
  • 1997: additional 24 dormice released at same location
  • 2005: Project widened to an additional site in North Wales and with several new partners, notably Chester Zoo, Countryside Council for Wales and the Forestry Commission Wales. This became the North West Dormouse Partnership.
  • 2005-2010: In five years, 241 dormice identity microchipped at the south Cheshire release site and 607 in North Wales.
  • 2011: Funding secured from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the North of England Zoological Society to conduct full analysis of the reintroduction to date.

See an exclusive BBC photo-diary of the work of the dormouse team in action.