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School children give 50 new homes to dormice on Llangyndeyrn Mountain near Kidwelly

Last modified: 15 August 2014

Pontyberem school kids put up nest boxes

Image: The RSPB

Pontyberem and Bancffosfelen Primary Schools near Llangyndeyrn Mountain have given the rare “y pathew” dormouse new homes by putting up boxes for the shy animal.

 

In partnership with Menter Cwm Gwendraeth, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and other Welsh Medium Primary Schools in the Gwendraeth Valley, Year Five children built and installed 50 dormouse boxes in protected woodland in the area before the summer holidays started. The dormice will be looking for homes during the summer when they will hopefully breed and have families.

 

Ami Marsden, RSPB Cymru Community Engagement Officer for the Three Rivers Futurescape says: “The dormouse is a shy and nocturnal creature and so are very rarely seen, none of the children had seen one in real life. But once we’d showed them some pictures they really took the little animal to their hearts.”

 

Ruth Harding from Natural Resources Wales says: “The great thing about this project was the children got to build and put up the boxes themselves, and they could see exactly where these creatures live.

 

“This inclusive way of learning about this rare species will ensure they take responsibility for it, and understand that they are doing their bit to save nature. Working in partnership on projects to support rare species is part of our important work to try and halt biodiversity loss in Wales.”

 

The boxes will be monitored by licensed NRW staff with the help of motion sensor cameras installed in the woods. This is to aid a wider monitoring program of the species to try and find out more about this elusive little creature.

 

Ami adds: “We don’t know much about this rare and protected creature, so by creating these homes the children have really contributed towards an important conservation project. Towards the end of the year, we’ll go back to the woodland with them to see if the boxes have been turned into homes, and hope we can get some more information to inspire the children to do even more for the wildlife on their doorstep!”

 

The dormouse is a European protected species. Although they are found in every Welsh county except Anglesey, they live in low-density populations in these areas.  They are considered to be under threat because their numbers have fallen by over 20% in recent years. This is mainly due to habitat loss and predation.

 

The dormouse is part of the rodent family and measures between 68 and 79mm and weighs 16 – 20g. They are sometimes mistaken for mice, but have furry tails unlike mice. Most breed once or twice a year, producing a litter of four to five young, they can live for as long as five years and hibernate for six months of the year.

 

This work is supported by Menter Cwm Gwendraeth and is a partnership between NRW and RSPB Cymru’s Three Rivers Futurescape project in the Kidwelly area.

 

 

If you are a teacher with a class or a youth group leader in the Llangyndeyrn Mountain area and want to find out how you can be part of this project please contact ami.marsden@rspb.org.uk for more information.

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