The dormouse curled up inside his nest
Another dormouse has taken up residence in Naas, maintaining mid-Kildare’s status as the effective home of the species in Ireland.
The latest arrival was spotted in the garden shed of Naas married couple and teachers Joan Collins and Noel Mac Giolla Rua, who live with their family at Broadfield View.
“I was in the shed where we have a pile of plant pots and as I lifted one I noticed a small ball of straw. Then I a saw a head and shoulders; I knew it wasn’t an ordinary mouse. It has a beautiful ginger colour with a furry tail and was a little bigger than a field mouse. I got him into a container and put in food and water in with him. They really are cute looking creatures and I hope to release it back into the wild, having taken expert advice,” Joan told the Leader.
A former zoology student at UCD, Noel said he knew straight away it was a dormouse.
“It’s not a mouse at all actually; it gets its name from the French word ‘dormir’ meaning ‘to sleep’ because it hibernates from late October until late April usually and also because it’s nocturnal, it sleeps during the day,” said Noel.
The couple contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Damian Clarke who said that the species is native to England and Wales — but it has become extremely rare because of the loss of its habitat, which is typically hedgerows and deciduous woodlands — and is now found only in isolated areas.
“Apparently the animal has been in Ireland for only the last seven years and there have been fewer than 30 confirmed sightings so far. Remarkably, all of these known sightings have been within a 30km radius of Naas,” added Noel.
The dormouse is a protected species in Britain, where it is an offence to disturb, capture or kill one.