AskDefine | Define dormice

Dictionary Definition

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

User Contributed Dictionary



dormice (plural)
  1. Plural of dormouse

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.
dormice in Bulgarian: Сънливци
dormice in Danish: Syvsovere
dormice in German: Bilche
dormice in Spanish: Gliridae
dormice in Esperanto: Gliro
dormice in French: Myoxidae
dormice in Ido: Gliro
dormice in Italian: Gliridae
dormice in Hebrew: נמנמניים
dormice in Lithuanian: Miegapeliniai
dormice in Hungarian: Pelefélék
dormice in Dutch: Slaapmuizen
dormice in Japanese: ヤマネ科
dormice in Norwegian: Syvsovere
dormice in Low German: Slaapmüüs
dormice in Polish: Popielicowate
dormice in Portuguese: Gliridae
dormice in Russian: Соневидные
dormice in Serbian: Gliridae
dormice in Finnish: Unikeot
dormice in Swedish: Sovmöss
dormice in Turkish: Gliridae
dormice in Chinese: 睡鼠
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