Originally, the occurrence of the garden dormouse stretched from the Atlantic coast of Portugal and France to the Southern Urals in Russia, as well as Finland to southern Spain and Sicily. Today, it must be assumed that the range has shrunk by more than 50 percent during the last 30 years.
The garden dormouse is probably one of the most endangered rodents in Europe.
More than 10 percent of the world’s garden dormouse range is located in Germany. Originally it was present in most federal states, except Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Bremen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Berlin and Brandenburg. Meanwhile, however, the garden dormouse became rare in the eastern part of its German range. For the federal state of Saxony, its decline is well documented. At the beginning of the 19h century, the colourful dormouse was still present in the lowlands in the east of this state. Already at the beginning of the 20th century it vanished there as well as in the mountains in the east of Saxony. By the end of the 20th century, it only was present in the highlands in the south of Saxony. The decline went on rapidly and the last garden dormouse was found in the Saxon Switzerland in 2006. Despite intensive searches, no garden dormouse could be sighted in Saxony since then.
Little is known about the recent garden dormouse range in the other federal states. The current knowledge was compiled in 2012 and shows a patchy distribution in the centre and the south-east and wider distribution in the southwest of Germany (see map).
But no one knows for sure what the garden dormouse range in Germany is. Therefore, the project “In search of the garden dormouse” is urgently dependent on up-to-date observations and evidence.