AskDefine | Define dormouse

Dictionary Definition

dormouse n : small furry-tailed squirrel-like Old World rodent that becomes torpid in cold weather [also: dormice (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



Unknown origin, though came to be associated with French dormire ‘sleep’.


  • /ˈdɔːmaʊs/


  1. Any of several species of small, mostly European rodents of the family Gliridae; also called Myoxidae or Muscardinidae by some taxonomists.

Extensive Definition

Dormice are rodents of the family Gliridae. (This family is also variously called Myoxidae or Muscardinidae by different taxonomists). Dormice are mostly found in Europe, although some live in Africa and Asia. They are particularly known for their long periods of hibernation.


Dormice are small for rodents, with a body length of between 6 and 19 centimetres (2.5 - 7.5 inches), and weighing between 15 and 200 grams. They are generally mouse-like in appearance, but with furred, rather than scaly, tails. They are largely but not exclusively arboreal animals, and are agile and well adapted to climbing. Most species are nocturnal. Dormice have an excellent sense of hearing, and signal each other with a range of different vocalisations.
Dormice are omnivorous, typically feeding on fruits, berries, flowers, nuts and insects. Dormice are unique among rodents in that they lack a cecum, a part of the gut used in other species to ferment vegetable matter. Their dental formula is similar to that of squirrels, although they often lack premolars:
Dormice breed once or twice a year, producing litters with an average of four young after a gestation period of 21-32 days. They can live for as long as five years. The young are born hairless, and helpless, and their eyes do not open until about eighteen days after birth. They typically become sexually mature after the end of their first hibernation. Dormice live in small family groups, with home ranges that vary widely between species, and depending on the availability of food


Currently, the earliest fossil evidence of dormouse species comes from Europe in the early Eocene . They appear in Africa in the upper Miocene and only relatively recently in Asia. Many types of extinct dormouse species have been identified. During the Pleistocene, giant dormice the size of large rats, such as Leithia melitensis, lived on the islands of Malta and Sicily.


The family consists of 34 living species, in three subfamilies and (arguably) 10 genera:
Family: Gliridae

Fossil species

External links


  • Holden, M. E.. 2005. Family Gliridae. Pp. 819-841 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
dormouse in Bulgarian: Сънливци
dormouse in Danish: Syvsovere
dormouse in German: Bilche
dormouse in Spanish: Gliridae
dormouse in Esperanto: Gliro
dormouse in French: Myoxidae
dormouse in Ido: Gliro
dormouse in Italian: Gliridae
dormouse in Hebrew: נמנמניים
dormouse in Lithuanian: Miegapeliniai
dormouse in Hungarian: Pelefélék
dormouse in Dutch: Slaapmuizen
dormouse in Japanese: ヤマネ科
dormouse in Norwegian: Syvsovere
dormouse in Low German: Slaapmüüs
dormouse in Polish: Popielicowate
dormouse in Portuguese: Gliridae
dormouse in Russian: Соневидные
dormouse in Serbian: Gliridae
dormouse in Finnish: Unikeot
dormouse in Swedish: Sovmöss
dormouse in Turkish: Gliridae
dormouse in Chinese: 睡鼠
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