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Dormice: Myoxidae

Edible Dormouse (myoxus Glis): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Edible dormice are a silver-gray color with white or yellow undersides. They have black areas around their eyes. They look like squirrels. They have large, round ears, small eyes, and long, very bushy tails. They use the rough pads on their feet to climb trees. Their head and body length is 5 to 8 inches (13 to 20 centimeters), their tail length is 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 centimeters), and their weight is 2.4 to 6.3 ounces (68 to 179 grams). They are the largest of all the dormice.

Geographic range: Edible dormice live in Europe, Iran, and Turkmenistan.

Habitat: Edible dormice can be found in deciduous and mixed forests, and fruit orchards. Within these areas, they build their nests in woodpecker holes, fake nest boxes, hollow trees, rocks, and barns. They use hairs and feathers to line their nests. If there is not enough food available in their living area, they will move elsewhere.

Diet: Edible dormice eat a lot. By the winter, their weight will be almost double the weight they were at the beginning of the summer. They will eat insects in the summer, since fruit and seeds are not ripe enough. Once fruit and seeds become suitable for eating, they will eat them, as well as nuts, acorns, berries, and buds. They are mostly herbivores, plant-eating, and only eat insects or small birds when they have no other choice.

Edible dormice eat mainly plant material, such as fruit and seeds. They eat insects in the summer, before the fruit and seeds are ripe. (© B. Brossette/OKAPIA/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Behavior and reproduction: Edible dormice can be very quick and can also jump more than 23 feet (7 meters) when going from tree to tree. The males are territorial and tough fighters during mating season, which goes from June until August. They will mark their territories by scent, so that other males know not to cross over into their areas. The males make a squeaking sound during mating season while they follow around the females, in hopes of attracting a mate. The females will only give birth once a year and the males help raise, clean, and protect the young. The families may stay with one another during the hibernation months. Edible dormice can make a variety of sounds, including clicks, whistles, and growling. These sounds can take on different meanings. If predators attack them, they can make their tails fall off as a form of defense—the predator keeps the tail, but the dormouse escapes.

Edible dormice and people: Edible dormice can serve as food to people. In some areas, they are even considered to be a delicacy. They can also cause damage to humans when they destroy fruit or vine crops. They may also be captured for their fur.

Conservation status: Edible dormice are listed as Near Threatened by The World Conservation Union (IUCN), meaning that the species is not threatened now, but could be in the near future. ∎



Alderton, David. Rodents of the World. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1996.

"Dormice" and "Fat Dormouse, or Edible Dormouse." In Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th ed. Vol. II. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

"Dormouse." In National Geographic Book of Mammals. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1998.

"Edible Dormouse." In Smithsonian Handbooks: Mammals. New York: DK Publishing, 2002.

Macdonald, David, ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Volume III. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2001.

Web sites:

"Myoxus glis." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myoxus_glis.html (accessed on June 12, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsDormice: Myoxidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Edible Dormouse (myoxus Glis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DORMICE AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS