In Britain the dormouse spends about half it's year in hibernation.
enter hibernation at the time of the first frost, when nearly all food
Dormice rely upon fat reserves gathered in the summer and autumn, and
during hibernation they loose about a
quarter of their body weight. This is where the weather
can pose a real threat to
the dormouse. Many people think that the warmer it is, the safer the
dormouse will be. Quite the contrary. It the temperature gets to high,
the dormouse could wake up, wasting extremely valuable fat reserves.
Moreover, all chemical reactions (including those in the body), occur
faster as temperature increases. Therefore, warmer weather will cause
valuable fat to burn quicker.
So the best temperature needs to be as low as possible, without the
dormouse freezing. So the ideal hibernation temperature for dormice is
Dormice hibernate in characteristic tightly woven nests on the ground,
often in piles of leaves. This is in complete contrast to the arboreal
lifestyle dormice lead in the active season.
The reason, though, for this is that it is damper and cooler on the
ground, perfect for hibernation.
The Dormouse &
Torpor - Opting Out of Summer
If the weather is bad in summer, and food becomes scarce, the dormouse
stays in the nest and becomes torpid. It is somewhat like hibernation:
dormouse's body becomes cold and it stays very still, it almost appears
dead. Going torpid allows the dormouse to save fat reserves, which it
should the bad weather continue, and food remain unavailable. Torpor
saves around 20% of the energy that would normally be used during a day