Friday, 8 November 2019

Dormice and Hibernation

A few weeks ago we had our quick dormice pre-hibernation checks to make sure they were all OK for the winter, and confirm how many kits we have bred over the summer. Good news!.. Both our pairs have had large litters of dormice, and so we have many babies to prepare for release next year.

As part of the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Groups (CDCBG) we, along with many other holders across the south, breed dormice as part of the studbook for release out in to the wild. Once out of hibernation next Spring they will all be collected up and released back in to the wild in collaboration with the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).

We do have two species of dormice in the UK. The native, calm, small and adorable hazel dormouse above. Below is the larger, bitey and much more erratic edible dormouse that was introduced to the UK.

You can really see the size difference with both in the hand like this. Both species of dormice are entering, or have already started, to hibernate for the winter. Despite what many people think, only 3 of our mammal types hibernate... the dormice, hedgehogs and bats.

Other animals such as our badgers and squirrels don't hibernate, but do often slow down their activity to less time out of their nests while the days are shorter and weather is colder.

Of course another animal that tends to disappear over the winter are our adders, they will brumate during the winter months before waking up again ready to dance in the Spring.

With these changes in mind, and the shorter colder days upon us, we now close an hour earlier at 4pm and are on to our winter schedule for keeper talks, listed under the tab at the top of this page.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Photo of the Month: October 2019

"Fox" by Steve Miller

Some foxy images for you this month, and we chose the one above taken by Steve Miller to be our photo of the month. Steve's photo will be in our coffee shop gallery next year, and he will be in with a chance to win a photo day here if selected by our professional judge at the end of the year.

A couple more fox photos below, and a great action shot of our fallow deer antler locked.

"Fallow Rut" by Jackie Launders

"Basil the Fox" by Karen Gooda

"Flo the Fox" by Mike Crowle

Friday, 1 November 2019

Weasels on TV

Did you all watch the Natural World:Weasels: Feisty and Fearless last week? If not you can catch it on iPlayer. It was an hour long programme focusing on a family of stoats, but talking about a few of the other members of the weasel family. 

Well, for those who did, you would of seen some of our animals on it, as some of the filming was done here. Two of our weasels, including Molly above, stared in some of the close ups and more intimate shots. 

Our stoats were also featured, as was Elwood below in a very brief passing shot in the introduction bit to the weasel family. He did a beautiful action shot of running, no stunt double needed. 

Other weasels were filmed such as our polecats and pine martens, but they didn't make the cut... in fact they ended up using American martens! Blasphemous!

Not that our pine martens mind though, they are on to bigger and better things. This weekend the first episode in the "His Dark Materials" series airs on Sunday night, BBC1 at 8pm. The animals that appear are cgi, and the team responsible for this visited us to get some film footage of some of our animals moving to be able to accurately replicate this back in the studio.

While here they filmed our foxes and harvest mice among other animals, but the main star was Drogo one of our pine martens. He was captured to help create the movement for one of the main characters, Panteleimon, Lyra Belacqua's daemon, when in his pine marten form.