Dormouse Facts - Hibernation &


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Dormouse Hibernation

In Britain the dormouse spends about half it's year in hibernation. Dormice usually enter hibernation at the time of the first frost, when nearly all food is gone. 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 1 degree Celsius. 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 just stays in the nest and becomes torpid. It is somewhat like hibernation: the dormouse's body becomes cold and it stays very still, it almost appears to be dead. Going torpid allows the dormouse to save fat reserves, which it could need should the bad weather continue, and food remain unavailable. Torpor probably saves around 20% of the energy that would normally be used during a day