Animal Management: Bede's joins Dormouse Breeding Programme

Constance 18

It has taken four and a half years and a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears, but Bede's has finally been accepted onto the 'National Dormouse Captive Breeding Programme.'

This nation-wide scheme exists to try to boost the numbers of this endangered species in the UK.

Head of Animal Management Mr Paul Juniper said of the efforts going on at Bede's, "We started with 70 dormouse boxes being made in the Science Lecture Theatre and the Design and Technology department and putting them up at various sites throughout Sussex. But that was only the beginning!" 

Next Mr Juniper and Mr Jones took part in an 18-month training programme to get their Dormouse Handling Licences from Natural England, and Mr Hepworth-Taylor learned how to build a dormouse enclosure.

The school then cared for 2 non-breeding males for a year to prove that it was capable of meeting their needs and success in those efforts resulted in Bede's being entrusted with two breeding pairs of Hazel Dormice which arrived this weekend from Paignton Zoo in Devon.

"The plan is to allow them to breed," said Mr Juniper, "and then release the offspring and the parent couple at a secret location where the Hazel Dormouse has become regionally extinct in the UK.

"We should then get more breeding pairs next year.  Here's hoping for a good summer and the patter of really tiny feet in the next few months!"