After going more than 20 years without being spotted in the wild, a rare tree dormouse was discovered in an Austrian woodland.
The animal was located after a forester spent more than two years looking for it.
Very little is known about the species. Before the species hibernates for the winter, researchers want to learn more about it. Under the European Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive, it is strongly protected.
The tree dormouse has silver hair, a bushy tail, and googly black eyes. Despite having a cutesy appearance, it is an omnivorous nocturnal creature.
Together with the nature conservation association, the federal foresters have been conducting A search for the creatures for the past two years all throughout Austria.
For the past two summers, forester Anna-Sophie Pirtscher has been searching the Postalm region in Austria for animal footprints. There are 15 different places where there are a total of 30 nesting boxes.
According to Pirtscher, every time she opens one of these nesting boxes, “it’s nerve-racking. There might be a tree dormouse in there. But even if it’s ‘just’ a dormouse – I find these animals very, very cute and always exciting when you have such encounters.”
And finally, Pirtscher found a dormant tree mouse in a nest box. “Finally, finding a tree dormouse after two years and holding it in your hands is gigantic. That’s great.”
The discovery on the Postalm also signifies another thing to the forest manager of the Bundesforste: “We are right that there are tree dormouse in these areas here.” The last evidence of this animal here was “around 20 years ago”:
The forester and camera did not awaken the tree dormouse either, indicating that it must be a nocturnal creature. Pirtscher says, “I assume that he is still diligently collecting supplies for the winter so that he can eat his winter fat. He has about two weeks left before he should go into hibernation mode.”
The project’s goal is to learn more about the tree dormouse. The forester underlines that you can only do so if you know where it is.
“That’s why we hope that as many people as possible will report if they find one, have a photo if the cat brings you along – so that you know where his.” Dissemination is and what can be done to encourage it.”
In mixed woods close to streams, the tree dormouse feels at home. It mostly uses existing bird nests or tree holes for nesting. However, very little is now known about the timid animals.
“We know that it exists. We know that it lives in the forest and eats seeds, nuts and insects. But we don’t really know much more than that.”
After a short while, the tree dormouse that was discovered during the shoot was allowed to rest in the warm nesting box once more so that it would be healthy enough to forage for food at night.