The small rodent was found by a woman as she cleaned out a treehouse, and is the first of its kind ever to be caught in the wild in Ireland. Hazel dormice have a body length of 6 to 9 centimetres (2.4 to 3.5 in), with a 5.7 to 7.5 centimetre (2.2 to 3.0 in) tail and weigh 17 to 20 grams (0.60 to 0.71 oz).
They are native to Britain, where they are rare and classed as vulnerable, but have never been part of Ireland’s native fauna. They hibernate whenever food is scarce to conserve energy, and may spend up to three quarters of their life asleep.
Find out more about the hazel dormouse on ARKive.
This particular dormouse is currently being cared for by the Kildare Animal Foundation’s Wildlife Unit. As it is non-native it cannot be re-released into the wild in Ireland. How it arrived in Kildare is a bit of a mystery. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is planning an investigation to confirm whether this is an isolated individual or part of a small local breeding population.
Photo Credit: Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit, via Facebook