Origins and distribution
The edible dormouse is resident throughout much of Western Europe, the Caucasus and some parts of Northern Turkey. It is present in the UK in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, having been the result of escapees from a private collection in Tring, Hertfordshire in 1902.
The edible dormouse is approximately 14 – 19 cm in head/body length, with an additional 11 – 13 cm tail length. It weighs from 120 to 150 grams, but may almost double in weight immediately prior to hibernation. It has a squirrel like body, small ears and short legs with large feet. Its fur is grey to greyish-brown in colour over most of the body, with white to pale buff under-parts. There are no dark markings on the face, aside from faint rings around the eyes. The tail is long and bushy, with its fur slightly darker than that on the body.
The breeding season is from late June to mid-August, resulting in only one litter per year. Males are non-territorial, and may visit the territories of several nearby females to mate. Gestation lasts from 20 to 31 days, with a litter size of anything up to eleven young being born. The young are initially blind and helpless, and weigh around 2 – 3 grams. By 16 days they develop fur and open their eyes after approximately 3 weeks. They start to leave the nest after about 30 days, and are sexually mature by the time they complete their second hibernation. Edible dormice have been reported to live up to 12 years in the wild.
Edible dormice are nocturnal, spending the day located in nests taken from birds, or located in hollow trees or a similar shelter. They are good climbers spending most of their time in the trees, but unlike squirrels they are relatively poor jumpers. Communication is partly by sound, with the animals making various squeaks or snuffling sounds, and partly by scent.
Edible dormice hibernate from around October to May, depending upon weather conditions. They often prepare a den in roof spaces, relying on fat reserves to survive through the winter. Due to their presence in loft spaces they can be regarded as a pest due to the fire risk from gnawed electrical cables and fouling from their faeces.
Signs of activity
- Droppings and urine
- Smear marks
- Nesting material
Through gnawing they can present a risk of damage to electrical cables sometimes resulting in a fire and damage to growing timber by stripping bark. Their urine and faeces can contaminate an area and is unpleasant.
How we control Edible Dormice
We use humane live capture traps to catch edible dormice, these are baited and placed in roof spaces where harbourage is taking place, these are inspected daily by a fully trained licenced technician.