ZSL vets help dormice get ready for release into wild

Ten tiny hazel dormice have been given the all-clear by wildlife vets ahead of their release into the wild next month.

Each 20g dormouse had a 10-minute check-up with wildlife vets from ZSL's Institute of Zoology in central London.

Their heart and lungs were checked with a stethoscope, and their eyes, ears, nose, teeth and fur examined.

They will be released to a secret woodland location as part of an annual reintroduction programme, led by People's Trust for Endangered Species.

Hazel dormice populations have decreased by 70% nationally since 2000, figures show.

However ongoing efforts to restore their populations have seen more than 1,000 dormice reintroduced into 25 woodland habitats in 13 English counties since 1993.

The health checks were part of conservation charity ZSL's efforts to ensure animals being released to the wild are fit and healthy enough and that there is no risk of them passing diseases on to local wildlife.

During the check-ups, the dormice were also microchipped and X-rayed to check their bones and overall health.

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