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Digest 16 August 2000 - Vol. 1, No. 1

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Compliled and Edited by Werner Haberl
Number of recipients: > 105

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Dear Dormouse-'O'-Fessionals and Dor-Mateurs!

It has been about a year since I took on the "job" with "The Dormouse Hollow" and I am glad to finally have found the time and enough material to edit this first issue of "Dormouse Talk". Many have been waiting for this for a long time, as reflected in some contributions that are dated a few months ago and possibly are not relevant to the sender anymore. Replies to these queries are still most welcome and important. As I know from experience with "The Shrew Shrine", such questions arise again and again. It would be most efficient to answer those FAQ's and put the answers online.

For those who are unfamiliar with the procedures of Dormouse Talk: This "Newsletter" consists of mails received by The Dormouse Hollow. In order to reply to certain queries or to post messages, please direct your mail to

A couple of letters were sent in German language and I printed these unmodified. There seems to be a number of naturalists or dormouse-bothered house owners, especially from Switzerland, Germany and Austria. I would like to remind everybody that, in future, ENGLISH will be the official language of "Dormouse Talk". So if you have any queries or messages to be forwarded to the "Dormouse Specialists Group", please write in English.

Members of the scientific committee decided that the Dormouse Hollow should not become a trading place for pet dormice, and hitherto received mails (there were a few) on this topic cannot be printed. If, however, you are a keeper of a dormouse and can provide information re the animal's biology, please post your experiences to Dormouse Talk.

I hope you enjoy this first issue of "Dormouse Talk" and remain subscribed to this service in the future.

For the Bibliography, I would be indebted if you could send a list of publications or copies of your reprints / material / literature lists. Reports and photos are most welcome.

Best wishes,

Dr. W. Haberl
Postal Adress:
Hamburgerstrasse 11
A-1050 Vienna


1) Muscardinus and Eliomys from Sicily (Italy) (M. Sarà)

I have written a paper on Muscardinus conservation for our regional journal, to have a scientific document to stop the disastrous cut and clearance of bushes and woods, that yearly affect these animals. I will send it to you as soon as it will be published. the routine work on glirids still continues with monthly monitoring of two areas, we are waiting for the next appearence of fat dormouse on one of them. The guys of the group, my 'glirid-busters', are working hardly and collecting a lot of data. Finally I have found special thermometers with memory for long time recording. They are the data I lack for doing (may be) something of figure like that of North Europe (i.e. one birth season, one pop peak, hibernation from october to april / may), whereas 4-5 kms far away the oak population as the trend I showed in Edirne: 2 peaks, 2 birth season, no hibernation, continue presence on cages.... we are desperately trying to catch E. quercinus, but without any success...

We are trying to trap Eliomys quercinus in Sicily in a beech forest site where they have already been caught in the past years. The first trap sessions were without any result and to optimize our efforts, we would like to have experiences and suggestions from people already (and successfully) involved in this field. The information needed are mainly about trap models used, habitat, season of trapping, kind of bites, field trap density, and so on.

Any information is welcome.
best regards,
Maurizio Sarà

2) Advice: Marking Dormice? (B. Koppmann)

I am looking for people who have experience in marking fat dormice. I expect major difficulties in handling the animals. The idea is to tatoo a number in the ear. I would be thankful for tips and hints.

Bettina Koppmann
Bad Homburg, Germany

Dear Bettina,
Glis glis are easily marked by ear-tattooing. The handling procedure I have seen used in Slovenia and Turkey is to narcotise the animal and then punch the tattoo. - WH

3) Graphiurus Identification (V. Loehr)

Recently, Rotterdam Zoo (Netherlands) has donated a Graphiurus female of unknown species to me. I have tried to locate references in order to be able to identify the specimen. However, until now I have failed to do so.

I noticed some references in your internet site However, only the names of the authors and publication dates are provided... I wondered whether you are aware of any literature dealing with Graphiurus description and taxonomy?

I feel that I need to say that I am not a researcher on dormice, but rather on South African tortoises :-( Nevertheless, I have great interest in these fascinating mammals. That is the reason why I have received the (live) Rotterdam Zoo specimen. I have also sent an application to subscribe to Dormouse Talk.

Please attached find two scans of Graphiurus sp. Unfortunately I have not received any message from Dr Hutterer, and neither have I been able to locate suitable information on Graphiurus taxonomy myself. The specimens on the scans have been donated to me by Tierpark Berlin, where they were bred. The Tierpark is not aware of the species. I keep 2.3 specimens in an enclosure measuring 60 x 60 x 205 cm (l x w x h).

Thank you very much in advance!
Kind regards,

Victor Loehr
Nipkowplein 24
3402 EC IJsselstein
Database for animal collection registration:

The above mentioned pictures (2x Graphiurus) will be online soon. - WH.

4) Unusual Dormouse Vocalisations (R. Baxter)

Dear Werner,
A week ago I was live-trapping small mammals in the Hogsback Forest in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. I was looking for a specific shrew and all other mammals trapped were set free. June is winter in South Africa.

I caught a total of five dormice (Graphiurus murinus) which indicates that they were not hiberating at the time. Three were "awake" when I cleared the traps and they simply ran off when I set them free. The fourth was in deep torpor in the classic curled up position with the furry tail wrapped over the nose and head. This one I placed in a sunny spot to wake up and return to its nest.

The fifth one was also in deep torpor and hard got partly wet due to some overnight rain. It was partly curled up. When I removed it to place it in a sunny area, it slowly opened its mouth wide and emitted and long croaking "aaaarrk". It then slowly closed its mouth.

This vocalization was not like any rodent sound that I have ever heard - it seemed far more "reptilian" in nature. Have any of the members of Dormouse Talk heard this sort of vocalization from a torpid dormouse? Does anyone know what its function is? I wondered if it is some sort of "threat" call - but what use would a threat call be to a torpid mouse?

Best wishes

Rod Baxter
Department of Zoology
University of Fort Hare
P/Bag X1314
South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 40-602 2164
Fax: +27 (0) 40-602 2168

5) Dormouse Behaviour / Vocalisations / Tapetum lucidum (I. Rieger)

Dear colleagues
I planned a dormouse night watching excursion for members of a Nature Protection Organization.

I was convinced that doing such an excursion would be not a too great problem, due to the following considerations:
- while observing Daubenton's Bats (since 1989, I am busy doing bat studies in the area of Rhinefalls, see, I regularly hear dormice calling - during a test run last year early in august with members of my family, we were lucky seeing dormice without any preparation activities.

Now, with a scheduled excursion, questions and problems arise. I like to present some of these questions here:

(1) Planning the dormouse excursion, I was convinced that the dormouse calling behaviour is acoustic display behaviour, a behaviour that has something to do with territoriality, thus a behaviour similar to bird callings. And, analogous to bird calling, I was of the opinion that using sound simulation (= playback of dormice callings from a tape) would attract dormice in the vicinity. It does not! Now my question: why? Are there studies / is there know how available dealing with the function of dormice callings? If dormice calling has not a territorial function, what else is a dormouse saying while calling?

(2) In anglosaxon countries, I took part in several "night animal watchings". During these, you go into a forest and with your hand spot light, you screen the trees, and all these eyes of nightly active animals glow red or orange or green-gray. This does not work with dormice! Why? It looks as if dormice miss a "tapetum lucidum". Early in the 1990, I reared a dormouse. This individual -"Sebastian" - stayed with us several years. And also the eyes of Sebastian did not glow in torch lights. Now - is my assumption true that - although they have the big eyes of nightly active mammals, dormice have not tapetum lucidum? Is anything known concerning their night vision? Do they have a poor night vision and thus orient themselves via other information channels (smell, touch).

(3) This last idea is supported by the following observations: Whenever I saw dormice during the night, in the beam of a torch or hand spot, I never noticed any reaction on behalf of the dormouse towards the sudden light. As a bat observer, I would expect a flight reaction (as "my" bats do). Is this a specialty of the dormice in my study area or is this behaviour know from other dormice in other areas? What about my interpretation: High up in the trees, a dormouse is more or less save from attacks of predators, thus their indifference towards light is actually an indifference towards un-interesting signs in their environment ("Godfather" of this interpretation is - again - my know how on the behaviour of Daubenton's Bats: They are frightened by light close to their day roosts and on their ways (flightpaths) towards hunting habitats; but in the hunting habitats, close to water surfaces, Daubenton's Bats do not care about light; you can use spot lights to observe them, no flight reactions will be noticed). Another interpretation would be: Dormice do not have very sensitive night vision eyes, they thus do not even notice that they are trapped in a light beam (see -assumption of a missing tapetum lucidum).

(4) Whenever I am in a dormouse range during dormouse-activity-time, I get the impression that rather close to me, but up in the trees, a dormouse is sitting there and throws things towards me - I hear something falling down with typical noise. I read about bark pealing - this could explain the noise I notice. Nevertheless, he noise I hear is usually of such a loudness that I would expect to hear this noisy activity also when the noisy dormouse is not active directly above me, but some metres to the left or to the right. But - frankly - this I do not hear. The noisy "throwing something down" is usually directly above the observer. Now the questions: Have you similar observations? Are there other interpretations beside bark pealing (like: defensive behaviour, or "bluffing")?

Looking forward to hear from you

Ingo Rieger
Fax 052 659 61 70
Tel 052 659 61 30

6) Fossil Dormice (J.W.F. Reumer)

Dear Werner,
It's only now that I realize that the "Dormouse Hollow" is another of YOUR babies!

I never really looked into it (but I will now). In fact, I once in a while work woth dormice too. In the grey past I described endemic dormice from Mallorca and Menorca [Hypnomys waldreni and Hypnomys intermedius, they are now called Eliomys (Hypnomys) waldreni and Eliomys (Hypnomys) onicensis].

Right this week I am writing up a paper on the dormice from the Zuurland boreholes in the Netherlands. One is Muscardinus pliocaenicus, the other one a new Eliomys species. Conclusion of this mail: please keep me posted on dormice as well!

All the best,

Jelle W.F. Reumer
Natuurmuseum Rotterdam
P.O.Box 23452
3001 KL Rotterdam, the Netherlands
tel: + 31 10 436 42 22
fax: + 31 10 436 43 99
mobile: + 31 6 53 77 84 44

7) Question about Weight Changes in G. glis (C. Stamatopoulos)

Could you make me aware of any research concerning annual weight changes of the fat dormouse? Thank you in advance.

Yours, Costas from bella Grecia.

8) Habitat and Ecology of G. murinus (T. Kapplan)

Some time ago I completed a short research project (for undergrad purposes) on the Habitat and Ecology of Graphiurus murinus (Woodland) in small forest remnants. If anybody is interested in this research please let know.

Todd Kaplan
Johannesburg, South Africa

9) Questions about Eliomys (M.P. Lopez Martinez)

I am Maria Pilar Lopez Martinez of Sciences Faculty in the University of Vigo (España). I am working with Eliomys (Rodentia). I'd like to meet or write with persons that they worked or they are working with rodents, especialy dormouse garden. I'd like to know papers that they talking about this matery.

Very truly yours and excuse me the inconvenience,
Maria Pilar Lopez Martinez

My address is:
360200 VIGO (ESPAÑA)

10) Dormice in the House: The Only Solution... (C. Bieber)

Es gibt zwar wenige aber doch genug deutschsprachige Schlaeferforscher. Ich bin z.B. eines dieser Exemplare. Ich beschaeftige mich mittlerweile seit ueber 10 Jahren mit Siebenschlaefern. Sehr haeufig kam dabei die Frage auf nach Hilfsmitteln um die Tiere aus Haeusern zu vertreiben. Die Antwort ist kurz und buendig: Es gibt bisher keine Methode um Siebenschlaefer dem Haus fernzuhalten. So schlimm kann es garnicht stinken, damit man einen Siebenschlafer damit vertreiben koennte. Schallwellen jeglicher Art werden ignoriert. Eine Katze kann manchmal etwas den Bestand dezimieren, wenn sie denn auch wirklich jagt und keine Angst vor Siebenschlaefern hat. Einzige Moeglichkeit die Tiere fernzuhalten: alle moeglichen und unmoeglichen Einschlupfloecher verschliessen. Dies ist leider nur sehr selten moeglich und so troesten sich die meisten Hausbesitzer damit, dass Siebenschlaefer ja nett Tiere sind und im Regelfall etwa 8 Monate Winterschlaf halten.

Ich hoffe, dass ich weiterhelfen konnte.

Dr. Claudia Bieber
Forschungsinstitut fuer Wildtierkunde und Ökologie
Vet. Med. Univ. Wien
Savoyenstr. 1
A-1160 Wien

11) Locomotion Studies of G. glis (R. Essner)

I am a graduate student at Ohio University, USA doing research on the functional morphology, ecology, and behavior of arboreal rodents, focusing primarily on locomotion. I would like to include Glis glis in my study but have had little luck obtaining them. I currently have one animal and need around 10. Do you know of any breeders or contacts that might sell me some animals? The locomotion data that I've collected thus far is intriguing and I would hate not being able to include it in my study due to an inadequate sample size.

Thanks, Rick

Rick Essner
Department of Biological Sciences
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701

Dormouse Bibliography: New Publications

1) M. Wilz. 2000 (Physiology / Hibernating Dormice)

1. "Comparison of hibernation, estivation and daily torpor in the Edible dormouse, Glis glis." Jounal of Comparative Physiology B (in print).

2. "Intermittent ventilation in hibernating dormice - Is ventilation always necessary to meet metabolic demands?" Life in the cold; Preceedings of the 11. International Hibernation Symposium. Eds: Heldmaier G, Klingenspor M, Klaus S. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg. (in print).

Dr. M. Wilz FB Biologie/Zoologie Philipps-University Marburg Karl von Frisch Strasse 35032 Marburg/Germany
Tel: ++49 (0)6421 282 3496
Fax: ++49 (0)6421 282 8937
Private: An der Kirche 13 35287 Mardorf Germany Tel: ++49 (0)6429 6704

2) T. Trilar et al. 1997-2000 (Parasites)

Trilar. T. 1997) Ectoparasites from the nests of Fat Dormouse (Myoxus glis) in Slovenia.- Natura Croatica 6(4): 409-421, Zagreb.

Prosenc K, Avsic-Zupanc T, Trilar T, Petrovec M, Poljak M (1997) The Fat Dormouse Myoxus glis as a natural host of medically important microorganisms.- Natura Croatica 6(2):253-262, Zagreb.

Brelih S, Trilar T (accepted) New data of Siphonaptera from Dinaromys bogdanovi (Rodentia: Cricetidae).- Scopolia, Ljubljana.


1a) Dormice in the House I

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herrn,
ich habe mit grossem Interesse Ihre Internetseite ueber "Bilche" gelesen. Mir ist Ende September 1999 ein noch junger Gartenschlaefer zugelaufen, den ich ueber den Winter bei mir in der Wohnung halten wollte und im Mai wieder aussetzen moechte. Es passiert nun immer wieder, dass der Gartenschlaefer 2 bis 3 Tage ohne Nahrungsaufnahme durchschlaeft, obwohl eine Zimmertemperatur von ca. 18°C vorliegt. Haben Sie schon aehnliche Erfahrungen gemacht ? Ich wuerde mich freuen, wenn Sie mir einige Informationen ueber die Winterschlafgewohnheiten gefangener Gartenschlaefer zuschicken wuerden.

Mit freundlichen Gruessen
Christine Trier

1b) Dormice in the House II

Durch Zufall sind bei uns eine Siebenschlaefer (Mutter mit 6 Jungen) evtl. auch Zwergsiebenschlaefer ?? gelandet. Ueber Haltung, Ernaehrung etc. wissen wir nichts . Gibt es Probleme mit dem Tierschutzgesetz ?? Duerfen wir sie halten und wenn ja, wie ?? Wo ist der Unterschied zwischen Sieben und Zwergsiebenschl”fer ?? Gibt es irgendwelche Literatur ueber Zwergsiebenschlaefer ?? ( Die Mutter erscheint uns für einen normalen Siebenschlaefer sehr klein) ausserdem zeigen sie keine Anzeichen fuer einen Winterschlaf und der Geburtstermin ist auch fuer einen normalen Siebenschlaefer untypisch.

Wir wueren sehr dankbar, wenn Sie uns in irgendeinerweise weiterhelfen koennten, resp. uns Adressen nennen koennen, wo wir uns hinwenden koennen.

Vielen Dank im voraus fuer Ihre Rueckantwort.
Mit freundlichen Gruessen
Bettina Reiter

1c) Dormice in the House III

Wir haben ein Problem mit Siebenschlaefern. In unserem Ferienhaus im Tessin hausen seit mehreren Jahren Siebenschlaefer im Estrich. Obschon es eigentlich posslige Tiere sind, machen uns diese doch mit dem Laerm und Geraeusch nachts Sorgen. Da wir das Haus auch vermieten, hatten wir schon viele Reklamationen wegen der kleinen Nager, zumal es schon vorgekommen ist, dass Tiere im Dachboden verendeten und einen penetranten Geruch verbreiteten. Wir haben schon verschiedenes versucht, die Siebenschlaefer aus dem Haus zu halten, Z.B. durch Streuen von Mottenkugeln, Geraet mit unregelmaessigem Geraeusch, Stopfen von Einschlupfloecher, Fuellen eines Nussbaumes nahe beim Haus usw. Immer ohne Erfolg. Wir moechten den Tieren nichts antun, aber doch moeglichst vom Dachboden fernhalten. Wir haben den Hinweis von Herr Decker mit dem Siebenschlaefer Fangdienst gelesen, haben allerdings seine E-Mailadresse nicht.

Aufgrund des Artikels kennen Sie das Verhalten der Tiere sehr genau. Haben Sie allenfalls Tips, wie wir die Siebenschlaefer vom Haus fernhalten koennen ohne diese in Gefahr zu bringen.

Besten Dank für Ihre Antwort.
Mit freundlichen Gruessen
T. Leuenberger

1d) Dormice in the House IV

Liebe Bilch-Freunde,
seit September letzten Jahres haben wir zwei Bilche zu Gast, die aus dem Nest gefallen waren. Wir haben vor, sie Mitte Mai auszuwildern. Wisst ihr, ob es dabei etwas bestimmtes zu beachten gibt, ob besondere Plaetze dafuer vorzuziehen sind usw.? Ueber eine Nachricht wuerden wir uns freuen.
Schoene Gruesse

2) A Question about Keeping African Dormice

Ich bekomme nächste Woche zwei kleine Afrikanische Siebenschläfer und suche dringend noch informationen darüber - im Internet finde ich allerdings fast ausschliesslich Infos über europäische Gattungen. Vorallem läst auch mein Englisch zu wünschen übrig... Könnten Sie mir ev. ein paar Infos geben?

Mit freundlichen Grüssen
Barbara Nussbaumer

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