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Is garden dormouse still living in Finland?

Garden dormouse (Eliomys quercinus) is considered to be a relict species in Finland; it traveled to the country during unusually warm climatic phase following the last glacial period. The species has a sporadic distribution in Estonia, Latvia and northeastern Russia. According to the IUCN estimation garden dormouse has a narrowing range especially in the eastern parts of its distribution, while in the western parts the range has remained steady.

In Finland, the species was found from the Heinola – Jaala region in the 1960s. After that all the photos and specimens thought to be garden dormice were actually wood mice (Apodemus flavicollis). The only exception was three animals caught from rat traps in Teuva in 1993 – these were the most recent confirmed garden dormice found in Finland. In addition, there is one reliable description on dead individual from Lappeenranta region, southeastern Finland.

The garden dormouse can be best recognized by black mask surrounding the eyes. © Wikipedia.

The aim of this project is to find out if garden dormouse is still living in these areas. Several live traps will be placed in farmhouses, outbuildings, gardens and abandoned farms in Lappeenranta and Teuva regions. The species can be best recognized by black eye markings, large ears and a white tassel at the end of the tail.

Further information

Ilpo K. Hanski, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 19128853, ilpo.hanski(at)helsinki.fi

Professor Heikki Henttonen, Finnish Forest Research Institute, tel. +358 50 391 2430, heikki.henttonen(at)metla.fi

Published 2013-06-20 at 12:54, updated 2013-06-20 at 12:54