First recorded in 1972, black dormice have only ever been recorded in small numbers in northern Germany – and never before in the UK.
The discovery was made during a dormouse box check by the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures (BHNF) project team for the Dormouse Monitoring Programme.
The Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project works across sites in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to survey wildlife sites and raise awareness of nature conservation.
Project officer, Conrad Barrowclough said: “Learning about and protecting our natural heritage is what we’re all about. So finding such rare dormouse on our doorstep is fantastic, especially at a time when Britain’s dormouse population is under threat.”
The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), which collates National Dormouse Monitoring Programme findings, confirmed the rarity of the find.
Ian White, PTES Dormouse Officer said: “The National Dormouse Monitoring Programme has been running for more than 25 years, with volunteers collecting data on thousands of dormice at nearly 400 sites. Not once has anyone come across a black dormouse.”
Following a loss of habitat and farming methods, Britain’s native dormice are under threat of extinction, but this black dormouse was discovered on farmland, which is being managed with nature conservation in mind.
The farm’s hedgerows are managed by hand using traditional techniques, bringing great diversity of wildlife including a healthy population of dormice.