The name dormouse derives from its habit of spending much of its time asleep – ‘dor’ comes from the French ‘dormir’, meaning ‘to sleep’ (the scientific name of this animal is Muscardinus avellanarius).
The dormouse is six to nine centimetres in length and weighs 15 to 30 grams. It has golden fur on the back and is paler underneath. It has large eyes and a long fluffy tail. Dormice live in wooded areas where they feed on fruit, nuts and seeds.
Dormice spend to three-quarters of their lives asleep, much of that time accounted for by winter hibernation. They wake in Spring and may breed at any time between May and October, producing up to seven young in a litter.
When awake dormice are very active, as they need to be both to escape the predation of foxes (etc) and birds of prey, and to gather enough food to fatten themselves for the next winter.
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Image Credit » Danielle Schwarz. Licence number GFDL CC-BY-SA-3.0