Dormouse / Dormice
We only have one species of Dormouse in the UK – the hazel dormouse – but there are many other species, thought to be around 29 different ones, found in Europe and more recently in Africa and Asia.
Dormice are probably best known for their hibernation pattern – which is exceptionally long. They are often depicted in cartoons, books etc., asleep with little bed hats on.
They are small rodents, around 6 to 20cm long, similar to a mouse with a furred tail. They are golden brown with black eyes. Dormice are nocturnal.
Habitat & Diet
They are excellent climbers, and their preferred habit is in trees, but rarely they may make their way into our homes for food, shelter and warmth.
Their diet consists mainly of berries, flowers and fruits, and they love hazelnuts. However, they cannot eat vegetables due to the lack of cecum in a dormouse gut (the area used to ferment vegetables).
They are not greedy breeders like rats and mice but rather may produce two litters a year of around four young a time. So each Dormouse lives for about five years.
As mentioned above, they are known for their long periods of hibernation. These can be for six months of the year and even longer if weather temperatures are not suitable. They wake briefly during this hibernation only to eat, and they pre-plan this by storing food nearby. Dormice survive very little during hibernation as they ‘stock up on body fat in the summer months mainly by eating hazelnuts.
The Hazel Dormouse is protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, so please contact us if you have any concerns.