Rodent safety! Dormice living beside the busy M1 get their own road crossing to help the species thrive
- A colony of rodents found living next to the M1 have been growing in number
- Two bridges built across the highway near Little Linford Wood, Buckinghamshire
- Hoped bridges will join two dormice habitats together and let them travel safely
As famously sleepy creatures, Dormice just want a nice peaceful place to curl up.
So a noisy – not to say dangerous – motorway verge might seem a poor choice to set up home, especially if they want to avoid a narrow squeak with danger.
But a colony of the rodents were found living next to the M1 around five years ago and have been growing in number ever since.
Now, to help the protected species thrive, two bridges have been built across the highway near Little Linford Wood, Buckinghamshire for the rodents to use.
A colony of dormice that were found living next to the M1, near Little Linford Wood, Buckinghamshire, around five years ago have been growing in number ever since. (Stock image)
It is hoped the bridges, which run alongside an existing crossing, will join two dormice habitats together and let the animals travel safely further afield.
Dormouse numbers have halved since 2000, with conservationists concerned they could become extinct in Britain.
The loss of hedgerows, which are used by dormice to travel to different areas of woodland, is thought to be a factor behind their plummeting numbers.
Forty-one of the nocturnal mammals were reintroduced into the wood north of Milton Keynes in 1998, and soon spread around the area.
A colony settled beside the M1 a third of a mile away and was only recently discovered during upgrade works to the road. The rodent route over the highway has not yet been used, as the dormice are in hibernation until April.
Paul Unwin, regional lead sponsor at Highways England, said: ‘People might not give much thought to the wildlife that makes its home in roadside verges while on their journeys, but often they can be an oasis for wildlife.
Two bridges, which run alongside an existing crossing, have been built across the highway for the rodents to use
‘It’s vitally important that we protect the surrounding countryside and wildlife that makes its home there when we build these transformative schemes – not only for this generation but for the many generations to come to enjoy.’
Highways England has installed 300 dormouse boxes along the M1 between junctions 13 and 16.
The bridges will be monitored by cameras. The dormice, which hibernate for over half the year, will be observed until 2030.