dormouse

/dawr"mows'/, n., pl. dormice /-muys'/.
any small, furry-tailed, Old World rodent of the family Gliridae, resembling small squirrels in appearance and habits.
[1400-50; late ME dormowse, dormoise; etym. obscure; perh. AF deriv. of OF dormir to sleep (see DORMANT), with final syll. reanalyzed as MOUSE, but no such AF word is known]

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Any of 20 rodent species (family Gliridae) found throughout Eurasia and northern Africa.

Dormice have large eyes, soft fur, rounded ears, and a hairy (sometimes bushy) tail. They live in trees, bushes, and rock walls and in nests of plant material. They eat fruit, nuts, birds' eggs, and some insects and small animals. Many species sleep for long periods, particularly in winter. The largest species, the edible dormouse (Glis glis), is gray and attains a maximum length of about 8 in. (20 cm), excluding the 6-in. (15-cm) tail.

Edible dormouse (Glis glis).

Schunemann/Bavaria-Verlag

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Introduction
 any of 27 species of small-bodied Eurasian, Japanese, and African rodents (rodent). The largest, weighing up to 180 grams (6.3 ounces), is the fat, or edible, dormouse (Glis glis) of Europe and the Middle East, with a body up to 19 cm (7.5 inches) long and a shorter tail up to 15 cm. One of the smallest is the Japanese dormouse of southern Japan (Glirulus japonicus), weighing up to 40 grams and having a body that measures less than 8 cm long and a tail of up to 6 cm. Dormice are small to medium-sized and have large eyes, rounded ears, short legs and digits, and hairy or bushy tails. Their gray to reddish fur is soft and dense; some species have a dark stripe along the back and dark facial markings.

Natural history
      Dormice are primarily nocturnal, but some are active during the day. Most species are arboreal and agile climbers, but some thrive in treeless, arid regions. Some are adept rock climbers, reportedly able to scale vertical rock faces and even walk upside down under rock ledges. Dormice construct globular nests (nest) in trees, bushes, rock crevices, and burrows and among tree roots; some also utilize abandoned bird or squirrel nests and, occasionally, active beehives. Their diet consists of fruit, nuts, insects, spiders, bird eggs and nestlings, and small rodents—even other dormice.

      Dormice are found in Eurasia from western Europe to eastern China, in southern Japan, along the Mediterranean margin of North Africa, and throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They live in a diverse variety of habitats from boreal (boreal forest) and deciduous forests to orchards and tropical rainforests, through open country broken by scattered clusters of trees and shrubs to clay and sandy deserts and rocky, dry plateaus. Species living at temperate and boreal latitudes accumulate body fat in the fall and hibernate during much of the winter, rousing occasionally to eat food that they have stored. Tropical and desert species experience periods of torpor but not hibernation.

Paleontology and classification
      Dormice are not “true” mice (family Muridae); they are the only members of family Myoxidae, but their relationship to other rodents is not clear. Dormice have been allied with two different major groups: the squirrel-like rodents (suborder Sciuromorpha) and the mouselike rodents (suborder Myomorpha). In reality, the closest living relatives of dormice are unknown. The dormouse family has a long and diverse evolutionary history from the Early Eocene Epoch (54.8 million to 49 million years ago) in Europe and Asia and from the Middle Miocene Epoch (16.4 million to 11.2 million years ago) in Africa; this history produced today's living forms as well as numerous extinct species in 36 genera that are represented only by fossils.

Family Myoxidae (dormice)
 27 species in 3 subfamilies.
      Subfamily Graphiurinae
 1 genus.

      Genus Graphiurus (African dormice)
 14 species.

      Subfamily Leithiinae
 10 species in 4 genera.

      Genus Dryomys (forest dormice)
 4 species.

      Genus Myomimus (mouse-tailed dormice)
 3 species.

      Genus Eliomys (garden dormice)
 2 species, including the lerot.

      Genus Selevinia (desert dormouse)
 1 species.

      Subfamily Myoxinae
 3 species in 3 genera.

      Genus Glirulus (Japanese dormouse)
 1 species.

      Genus Muscardinus (hazel dormouse)
 1 species.

      Genus Glis (fat dormouse)
 1 species.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dormouse — Dor mouse, n.; pl. {Dormice}. [Perh. fr. F. dormir to sleep (Prov. E. dorm to doze) + E. mouse; or perh. changed fr. F. dormeuse, fem., a sleeper, though not found in the sense of a dormouse.] (Zo[ o]l.) A small European rodent of the genus… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dormouse — early 15c., possibly from Anglo Fr. *dormouse tending to be dormant (from stem of dormir to sleep, see DORMER (Cf. dormer)), with the second element mistaken for mouse; or perhaps it is from a M.E. dialectal compound of mouse and M.Fr. dormir.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • dormouse — ► NOUN (pl. dormice) ▪ an agile mouse like rodent with a bushy tail. ORIGIN of unknown origin, but associated with Latin dormire to sleep …   English terms dictionary

  • dormouse — [dôr′mous΄] n. pl. dormice [dôr′mīs΄] [ME dormous ? altered by folk etym. (after mous, MOUSE) < OFr dormeuse, sleepy, sluggish < dormir: see DORMANT] any of a family (Gliridae) of small, furry tailed, mostly tree dwelling Old World rodents …   English World dictionary

  • Dormouse — For Lewis Carroll s fictional character, see Dormouse (Alice s Adventures in Wonderland). Dormice Temporal range: Early Eocene–Recent …   Wikipedia

  • dormouse — lazdyninė miegapelė statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Muscardinus avellanarius angl. common dormouse; dormouse; hazel dormouse vok. Bilch; Haselmaus; Haselschläfer; kleine Haselmaus; kleine Schlafmaus;… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • dormouse — UK [ˈdɔː(r)ˌmaʊs] / US [ˈdɔrˌmaʊs] noun [countable] Word forms dormouse : singular dormouse plural dormice UK [ˈdɔː(r)ˌmaɪs] / US [ˈdɔrˌmaɪs] a small European animal similar to a mouse but with a furry tail …   English dictionary

  • dormouse — noun /ˈdɔːmaʊs/ a) Any of several species of small, mostly European rodents of the family Gliridae; also called Myoxidae or Muscardinidae by some taxonomists. b) A person who sleeps a great deal, or who falls asleep readily (by analogy with the… …   Wiktionary

  • dormouse — [[t]dɔ͟ː(r)maɪs[/t]] dormice N COUNT A dormouse is a small animal that looks like a mouse. It is found in southern England and Wales …   English dictionary

  • dormouse — noun (plural dormice) Etymology: Middle English dormowse, perhaps from Anglo French dormir + Middle English mous mouse Date: 15th century any of numerous small Old World rodents (especially family Myoxidae) that are intermediate in form and …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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