Information about the Dormouse

The Dormouse or also known as Dormouse is a small rodent from the dormouse family (Gliridae). Although the name suggests that it is a mouse, this is not the case. It is a species all its own. The dormouse may be small, but it is the largest among the dormice in Europe. The body length of these animals can vary from 13 to 19 centimeters. Characteristic of the dormouse is its bushy tail, which is slightly shorter than its body and is approximately 12 to 15 centimeters. The fur of Dormice is gray-brown in color and a dark dorsal stripe runs along the back. The belly is lighter in color.

Body weight: 70 and 200 grams
Life expectancy : 2 to 3 years

The dormouse is native to southern and central Europe and was introduced to England in 1902. They are nocturnal animals. Dormice like a warm climate. The northernmost border where wildlife still occurs is therefore South Limburg.

Dormice can live up to 7 years, which is extremely old compared to other rodents.

Dormice also used to live in the Netherlands, we are talking about the period before the Ice Age, when the Netherlands still had a tropical climate. Only from the Pleistocene, when the climate became colder in the Netherlands and the forests disappeared, did the dormouse also disappear. Nowadays dormice only live in South Limburg, because it is still warm enough there.

Dormice live in small groups
A group of several females can usually be kept without any problems
Keep 1 castrated male with 1 or 3 - 4 females, uncastrated males should not be kept together (fighting for the hierarchy)

Dormouse as a pet

Dormice can also be kept as pets. It is important to look at the natural needs of the animals and to reflect this in the enclosure as best as possible. Dormice love fruit, so it is important to regularly check the enclosure for fruit remains, as this is quite perishable. Because of all that juicy fruit and moisture, dormice also urinate a relatively large amount, making good bedding that absorbs well is a must for the animals. Depending on the diet, the stool may be rather sticky. The temperature should preferably not fall below 15°C.

Dormice hibernate

Dormices hibernate in the wild from October to May. They are therefore also called "nature's sleepyheads". They are also the animals with the longest hibernation and because this lasts 7 months, dormice are also called "dormouse".

Tame and familiarize yourself with the Dormouse

Always read carefully before you decide to get Dormice. They are very nice animals that are awake, especially at night, which makes them less suitable for children, for example. Dormice are very friendly and curious. They can be shy and fast at first. Once the Dormouse is on the hand, it can balance well thanks to its long tail, the animals walk nimbly from one hand to the other or between the fingers. This makes them easier to handle in the hands than, for example, Gerbils or Hamsters.

New residents should be approached calmly, especially during the first few months. The animals must first become familiar with their own enclosure and feel safe in it before they dare to approach people. Of course, there are also daredevils who immediately walk up to you and are social, but most mice are a bit shy at first. Give the animals time and try to make contact calmly by talking to them. Giving treats out of hand often works well to gain the animals' trust.

TIP! Dormice love nuts

Housing of the Dormouse

Dormice are social animals that must be kept together. In the wild they live in small loose groups. In the wild, animals live in trees. It is therefore good to design the enclosure for climbing, but they also dig. In winter they hide for hibernation in trees or in holes in the ground that can be up to 60 cm deep. So a thick layer of ground cover is also welcome!

Dormice are real climbers and therefore need a spacious and high enclosure of at least 80 x 40 x 80 cm (lxwxh) for two animals. For each additional animal, 20% additional land area must be calculated. A good enclosure gives the animals the opportunity to exhibit their natural behavior. In the wild dormice are very active, they would like to continue to do so in captivity, they do not want to get bored. The Dormouse needs an extensive enclosure with plenty of opportunities to play, dig and climb. Thanks to their long tail, dormice can keep their balance very well, making them great climbers.

Hamsterscaping is also great fun for Dormice!

In our home, a good Dormouse enclosure translates into a spacious enclosure with lots of challenge and sufficient hiding places. A terrarium is the best choice thanks to its closed nature. It is important that a terrarium allows good ventilation, so preferably it has two grilles (top and bottom). This is especially important in summer when temperatures rise above 25°C.

House for a Dormouse

Dormice are lucky! because many houses made for hamsters are also a good size for dormice. They are prey animals and do not like to walk around the enclosure openly, but if they occasionally come across a shelter where they can escape, they feel a lot safer. Dormice like to sleep together, so at least one house in the enclosure must be large enough to accommodate the entire group. In addition, one extra sleeping house or hiding place per Dormouse is ideal. The animals like to sleep together, but they also need a place where they can retreat for a while.

Grass houses are also very natural for Dormicides and the animals really like them because they imitate a natural hiding place.

Ground cover for the dormice

Dormices often have sticky stools and urinate a lot due to their diet. It is important that the bedding for dormice absorbs well. An example of well-absorbing ground cover is Cotton & Cotton . A nice mix is, for example, the mix of Cotton & Hemp Fiber , Cotton & Wood Fiber or a mix of Wood Fiber , Hemp Fiber and Hay. The mice also use the hay as nesting material. An ideal height of the groundbed for foraging and digging is around 15 cm.

Dormice are nest builders

Dormice are real nest builders. They also like to line their nest with soft nesting material . Making a nest is therefore part of the natural behavior of a dormouse. In nature they mainly do this with moss, leaves and twigs. Therefore, always give the Dormice 15-25 grams of nesting material. Mouse nesting material must be nice and soft, absorb moisture and have fragile fibers so that the animals cannot become entangled in it. Materials such as cotton, hemp, toilet paper and hay are ideal.

Food for Dormice

It is important to know that there is no special food for dormice. Our advice is to feed these animals a good mouse food as a basis, supplemented with an insect mix and fruit.

Dormice are omnivores (everything eaters), but in practice they mainly eat vegetarian. During the night the animals wake up and look for food. They do this in the wild by foraging on the forest floor. Relmuzien's diet consists mainly of seeds, nuts, vegetable food in the form of plant parts and herbs , but also animal proteins. In the wild, dormice catch small insects or raid bird nests to eat the eggs, so it is good if their diet also contains animal proteins.

Gnawing material to wear down the teeth

Dormice have a natural need to gnaw. This is because dormice are rodents and have continuously growing incisors. It is therefore necessary for these animals to be able to gnaw on something to wear down their teeth. The best is bark wood, they love it! If dormice have insufficient opportunities to wear down their teeth, the teeth may become too long or grow crooked, with all the consequences that entails.

Gnawing wood is used by rodents to wear down their teeth. Because rodents' teeth are always growing, they need to be gnawed regularly so that they do not grow too long and crooked.

Most dormice actively gnaw bark. However, it is a matter of taste and on the other hand a matter of need as to how much the animals gnaw on it. If a Dormouse has no need to gnaw because its teeth are kept at their proper length through food, hay or other nibbles, it will gnaw less on wood. It is good to always provide natural gnawing wood so that the animals can always gnaw when they need to gnaw.

Did you know?

Do dormice imitate the buzzing of hornets to deter intruders from their nest?

Dormice can even sleep for 11 months in a row? This especially happens if the beech trees have too few beechnuts. As a result, the animals have insufficient food for young and they sometimes go into hibernation as early as July

Reproduction of the Dormouse

After hibernation, which lasts 7 months, dormice start looking for each other. This means that females and males seek each other out in the wild to mate. This is usually in June to August. If mating is successful, between two and nine small naked dormice are born 31 days later. The animals often only have one litter per year because there is no time for the next litter. Once the current young have been raised, preparations must be made for the impending hibernation.

Number of litters : 1 per year
Litter size : 2 - 9
Gestation period : 31 days
Weaning time : from week 4

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