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Hazel dormice range and distribution in the UK

Hazel dormice used to be widespread in Britain and common enough in some southern counties that they use to be traded in Surrey schoolyards. In the late 1800s dormice were found from the south coast to the Scottish border with the exception of Norfolk and Northumberland.

A century later, dormice appeared to be extinct in many northern and midlands counties and alarm bells were ringing. With less people working in the countryside a new method of finding where dormice was needed. Dormice open hazelnuts, one of their key food sources, in a very distinctive way. We enlisted the public to collect hazelnuts so we could check if they’d been eaten by dormice. The first Great Nut Hunt in 1993 confirmed that dormice were confined predominantly to southern England and Wales and, where dormice remain, their distribution is patchy.

We continue to collect records from our regular monitoring, from ad hoc sightings and from people licensed to handle dormice. Dormice are gone in Northumberland, the most northerly county now being Cumbria. While there are still frequent populations in southern counties, they’ve gone from at least 17 counties in the UK.

We have been working to save hazel dormice in the UK for over 20 years. Find out about our campaigns and how you can help:

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