Dormice population growing thanks to University of Cumbria project

30 dormice were introduced in Gait Barrows in June Credit: ITV

The population of dormice in Cumbria is rising due to a new project backed by the University of Cumbria.

It's hoped dormice will spread from their only home in Lancashire to Cumbria this spring.They're incredibly rare in the UK but a project in Silverdale is connecting woodlands so they can spread to other areas.

It's thought there aren't any dormice in Scotland but the population in England and Wales has halved over the last 20 years, with just one population in Cumbria (near Haverthwaite) and one in Lancashire.

One of the problems is there are now fewer of the kinds of managed woodlands the mice love and climate change means the winters are getting warmer.

The amount of dormice has increased by more than three times Credit: ITV

The lack of woodlands means they're not always connected by trees or hedgerows so the mice struggle to migrate.

But one of the great things about the Gait Barrows Nature Reserve coppice is that there are connections that could take them over the border to Cumbria.

They're even thinking about building them a little bridge to get them over the railway.

30 dormice were introduced in Gait Barrows in June with that now rising to more than 100.

At first, they were in cages with volunteers filling the hatch with food.

The project says the volunteers have really got behind the project and are the main reason the dormice seem to be loving their new home.

Michelle Cooper, Morecambe Bay Partnership said: "They're weighing the dormice; they're taking them out of the cages; they're monitoring how much food has been eaten and trying to give them the best possible chance of really making sure that they're getting all the nutrients that they need.

"And then when the cage doors were open then it was about going back and offering them some supplementary feeding until we knew they were coping on their own."