1. ITV Report

Look who's sleeping at a stately home near Bristol

Plenty of people have slept in this Victorian home over the years but what about the tiny dormouse found sleeping in the grounds? Credit: ITV News

People visiting Tyntesfield House near Bristol usually learn about the family that has lived there over the years - but they are now being introduced to some of the other local inhabitants.

The team has been surveying and monitoring wildlife on the estate for many years, including, bats, newts and birds, but have recently extended their work to include dormice.

This Tyntesfield dormouse may look cute but the rangers think it's asleep as it's not getting enough to eat Credit: NT Tyntesfield

Volunteers have installed a number of nesting boxes around the woodland in order to provide a suitable home for this important but declining species. It is illegal to handle dormice without a licence so the discovery comes thanks to Tyntesfield volunteer Gill Brown who has one.

It’s always fantastic to find dormice, as they are extremely rare, and as such have the highest level of animal protection possible.

I have been recording dormice locally since I received my licence in 2007 and last year was the worst year to date, so it is extremely special to have the first ever recorded find at Tyntesfield.

– Gill Brown, Dormouse-handler
Dormice population in the UK over the last century
The discovery shows that Tyntesfield provides the right kind of habitat for the rare creature Credit: NT Tyntesfield

The mammals are very sensitive to weather and climate as they have specialised feeding requirements, surviving on flowers for nectar and pollen, fruits and some insects.

Tyntesfield’s dormouse was found in temporary hibernation in order to conserve energy, probably due to a lack of food. The rangers will continue to monitor them and see exactly how healthy they are.

Finding these rare creatures in the grounds of Tyntesfield makes it an important habitat nationally. Just as important, perhaps, as the house is to Britain's history.