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 Species of the Week – Hazel Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius

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Join date : 1970-01-01

PostSubject: Species of the Week – Hazel Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius   Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:40 pm

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Did you know that dormice can hibernate for as long as seven months of the year?

Their English name is thought to derive from the French word 'dormir' meaning 'to sleep'. Dormice are well known for their habit of sleeping for much of the time and can therefore live much longer than a house mouse – up to 5 years!

Dormice feed high up in the trees on a variety of food. They eat flowers and pollen during the spring, fruit in summer and nuts, particularly hazelnuts, in autumn. This variety of food must be available within a small area, a requirement that limits the suitability of some sites for dormice. They are also known to visit birdfeeders, where most of the public sightings occur.

Hazel Dormouse is easily distinguished from mice by its long, furry tail. It is also the smallest European dormice weighing only 15 to 30 g!

Hazel Dormice are found throughout Europe, but they are not native to Ireland. However, small population was discovered recently in Co. Kildare. There is one female currently residing in Kildare Animal Foundation and there were more dormice sightings it the area. DNA samples were send to UK for analysis. Hopefully, the results will give us some clue as to where they came from and how were they introduced to Ireland.

NUI Galway launched a Dormouse Survey and it’s appealing on the members of public to report any dormouse sightings. You can visit their Facebook page here:
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Although non-native, most people are hesitant to call it “invasive” as there is no evidence of damage to native species, at least not yet. Very little is known about the Kildare population and until we know more, it’s very hard to make any predictions. It is also possible that the dormouse, thanks to its specialized diet and biology, would find an unoccupied niche in Ireland without any harm to native species.

However, this species is still non-native and therefore any release from captivity is illegal. We will all need to keep an eye on the population and try to learn as much as we can. If you see a dormouse, please report it, your sightings can help to determine the size and spread of the population!

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Photograph by Danielle Schwarz, CC BY-SA 3.0
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PostSubject: Re: Species of the Week – Hazel Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius   Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:05 pm

very interesting

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Gaga

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PostSubject: Re: Species of the Week – Hazel Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius   Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:26 pm

Melted, how cute! Xx

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