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Dormouse rescued from recycling bin and nursed back to health at Somerset animal sanctuary

The endangered hazel dormouse was found in a recycling bin. Credit: ITV News West Country

A tiny dormouse has been nursed back to health at a Somerset animal sanctuary after being found in a recycling bin.

The animal, which weighs less than 10 grams, was taken to the Secret World Wildlife Centre near Highbridge after being found inside a bin.

According to animal carer Katie Gibbs, the endangered hazel dormouse was “not in a good way” when it arrived at the sanctuary.

It was collapsed, cold, dehydrated, very wet and the prognosis was pretty poor. But on arrival at Secret World, it was given first aid care, warmed up and at the moment, it’s doing very well.

– Katie Gibb, animal carer

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What are Hazel dormice?

The hazel dormouse is one of Britain's rarest mammals. With a body length of just 6–9cm, and a tail of similar length, these cute creatures are so small that chances of spotting them are very rare.

They have soft golden-brown fur, big black eyes and a long, feathery tail. They weigh no more than 40g and are at their heaviest just before hibernation.

Dormice are successional feeders and require a range of foods to allow them to feed while they are active.

In spring, they will feed on the flowers of oak, hawthorn, sycamore and willow and as the season progresses move onto later flowering shrubs such as honeysuckle and bramble.

The dormouse at the Secret World Wildlife Rescue Centre. Credit: ITV News West Country

Did you know?

Wood mice, bank voles and hazel dormice feed on hazelnuts by gnawing a round hole in the shell and each leaves distinctive marks.

The tooth-marks of dormice run parallel to the edge of the hole, rather than outwards from its centre, so that the rim looks smooth, and there are few tooth-marks elsewhere on the nut.

In contrast, the tooth-marks of mice and voles run outwards, so that the rim of the hole looks like the milled edge of a coin.