Hazel Dormouse

Hazel dormouse Introduction:

The hazel dormouse is a species of rodent native to Britain and Europe, known for eating hazelnuts and for its habit of hibernating during the winter. It has golden-brown fur, big beady black eyes, and a long bushy tail. There are a number of species of dormice, but the hazel dormouse is the only member of the genus Muscardinus and the only dormouse native to Britain—although invasive edible dormice have been brought from the continent. Measuring only 16 cm in length (including its tail) the hazel dormouse is quite small and fills a spot near the very bottom of the food chain. Their diet consists of fruit and nuts for the most part, but they have been known to eat insects, pollen, and even the eggs of small birds. While dormice will try to remain hidden, populations of hazel dormice can be discovered by looking for signature circular holes in the shells of the hazelnuts that they eat that are unlike the holes made by any other animal. Hazel dormice make these holes using their sharp rodent teeth. Hazel dormice are primarily arboreal, and they rarely venture far from their homes. These homes are spherical nests made from fibers, bark and moss held together using the dormouse’s saliva as adhesive. These nests are usually located well above the ground in trees and hedgerows. Dormice leap from branch to branch and hold on tightly using their agile feet, making them well-suited for life in the trees. Hazel dormice are solitary, and they spend their days searching for food. If it is raining, cold, or if food is scarce, dormice have the option to go into torpor. They curl into a ball and sleep with a slowed heart rate—saving valuable energy. During the winter, this torpor is extended into a period of long hibernation. The dormice relocate to nests on the ground at the base of trees or beneath piles of leaves where they will be insulated against the cold. Then they enter into a deep sleep and reduce their body temperature dramatically. This enables them to go months without food while they wait for the warmer weather of spring. The hazel dormouse spends a large percentage of its life sleeping.

Keywords to learn

Arboreal: living in trees. Used mainly to describe animals who lead a tree-based lifestyle.

Torpor: lethargy or a state of controlled physical inactivity.

About Me:

Hey Kids, my name is Hap the hazel dormouse and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @

Hazel Dormouse Data:

  • Order: Rodentia.
  • Lifespan: 4 years.
  • Class: Mammalia.
  • Scientific Name: Muscardinus avellanarius.
  • Mass: 15g – 30g (0.53oz – 1.6oz).
  • Length: 11cm – 16cm (4.5in – 6.5in).
  • Region found: Throughout Europe and Britain.
  • Population Status: Vulnerable.
  • Current population trend: Decreasing
  • Diet: Herbivorous.
  • Sexual maturity: 1 year.

The hazel dormouse is a cute and interesting creature with many unique characteristics. Currently classified as vulnerable, there are many different threats to the hazel dormouse population.

Now that you know more about the hazel dormouse by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.

Hazel Dormouse Fun Facts for Kids:

  • # 1. The hazel dormouse has double-jointed ankles to assist it in claiming trees.
  • # 2. Up to 50% of hazel dormice die during hibernation.
  • # 3. The hazel dormouse has lived in Britain since the last ice age.
  • # 4. Their name comes from the French word dormir, meaning sleep.
  • # 5. Dormice have been depicted many times in fiction, notably in the novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Q&A Corner

  • # 1. How long do hazel dormice live?
  • # 2. Where do hazel dormice spend most of their time?
  • # 3. What does it mean to hibernate?
  • # 4. What is the diet of the hazel dormouse?
  • # 5. What is the nest of a hazel dormouse made of?


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