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SBI Guidelines: Mammals


Acceptable evidence of the presence of natural mammal populations (i.e. not re-introduced) or if re-introduced, established for 5 or more years. Evidence includes sightings of animals, their nests and in appropriate cases, faecal material. Sites maybe considered for inclusion based on records not more than 5 years old for all species concerned.

Site selection is based on regularly used breeding areas and/or territories. Generally, breeding should be confirmed for at least three years out of the previous five at time of selection within the area selected. For some species this may prove difficult, however, and for species that are in decline (e.g. water voles), or that are highly mobile (e.g. otters), other considerations may apply.

The following guidelines allow for this at the time of writing, but must be understood to be subject to possible frequent changes. Following selection, species should be recorded every five years to confirm status. Consideration should also be given to identifying areas utilised at other times of the year where these contribute to the essential habitat requirements of the species. Site selection must include a determination of the boundary of this area used by the species, and must allow for meta-population dynamics.

Water Vole (Arvicola amphibius)

Sites selection should include:

  1. The stretch of watercourse or water body within which the colony is situated (recorded at optimum breeding time).
  2. Where colonies are 1km or less apart and linked by watercourse/s then all colonies and links should be included within the site.
  3. Water voles may also cross land so where colonies are 500m apart or less, even where there is no linking watercourse, they should be included in the same site.

Site boundaries should also be set to allow for the inclusion of:

  • All bankside vegetation and associated potential foraging areas
  • Burrows in current use
  • Winter refuge areas (flooding)

A buffer zone of at least 50m either side of each colony, with a further buffer zone of 10m either side of the watercourse, should also be included around all such features.

Site boundaries should be mapped using clearly defined features, such as bridges, roads etc., within which the above parameters and measurements should fall.

Otter (Lutra lutra)

Confirmed breeding and resting sites are protected by both British and European law.

Site selection should include:

  • Cover-providing habitat (holt sites, scrub, dense brambles, etc.) within 500m of areas of high otter activity. High otter activity can often be an indication of a breeding colony and will normally be evidenced by spraint mounds, although footprints and feeding remains are also often present.

A map showing areas where otter protection is considered necessary is available from Staffordshire Ecological Record.

Common Dormouse (Muscardius avellanarius)

Site selection should include any suitable blocks of habitat known to be used by the species and connecting habitats, such as hedges.

Yellow-necked Mouse (Apodemus flavicollis)

Site selection should include any suitable blocks of habitat known to be used by the species

Harvest Mouse (Micromys minutus)

Site selection should include any suitable blocks of habitat known to be used by the species.

Water shrew (Neomys fodiens)

Site selection should include any suitable blocks of habitat known to be used by the species.

Evidence of activities of any of the listed mammal species score 1 point

All Bats (Chiroptera)

If a site has a significant population of a notable species[1] we will look to protect areas of feeding habitat and maternity roosts for that population and create a zone around known bat roosts.


  1. Species with five or less known maternity roosts in Staffordshire.
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Version 6.01 (December 2017) Copyright © Staffordshire Wildlife Sites Partnership, 2018 Last Updated: 8/04/2015