Rare dormice get full health check-up before wild release
Reintroducing dormice to the UK
Rare British hazel dormice have been given their final check-up by our vets ahead of their planned release into the wild next month - as part of our on-going conservation work to protect this tiny, vulnerable mammal, once common across England and Wales.
Led by our expert vets at Institute of Zoology, images and footage show yesterday’s check-ups ensuring that these sweet-natured rodents are fit and healthy before their release to a secret woodland location - part of a long-term project to rebuild populations and restore the range of this native species.
Hazel dormouse weight
During each 20 gram dormouse’s 10-minute appointment with the expert team, they were placed under a miniature dormice-sized dose of general anaesthetic while their heart and lungs were checked with a stethoscope, their eyes, ears, nose, teeth and fur were visually examined, and a tiny microchip was gently placed under their skin to allow for easy identification in post-release monitoring.
Dr Elysé Summerfield-Smith, health-check co-ordinator and wildlife veterinarian for our Disease Risk Analysis and Health Surveillance Team (DRAHS), said: “Hazel dormice were once found in woodlands and hedgerows across Britain, spending their nights feeding on berries and hawthorn flowers and their days curled up asleep in nests made from honeysuckle bark. While still common in mainland Europe, UK dormice number have drastically fallen over the last 100 years - linked to the loss of habitats - and the British population is now mostly confined to southern England and Wales, leaving these iconic native rodents vulnerable to extinction. Dormice are flagship species for their habitats, so by working to restore their homes and rebuild their populations, the birds, bats and butterflies that they live alongside will also benefit.”
Posted On: 25/05/2023