A Dormouse (or two, or three, …..)

The March Hare and the Hatter put the Dormouse’s head in a teapot. Illustration by John Tenniel. (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).

Every summer we see (or hear) these little creatures in our garden shed…


in the hazel trees…

in the woods…

ย in the kitchen…


Yes, this year we even had one in the kitchen! A disused ventilation pipe behind our stove was clearly never filled in and so a regular visitor to the hood of my stove has been a dormouse. The other day several kitchen cupboards had to be removed in order to ensure he/she was not stuck in there before we closed up the hole. But somehow he hid in a closed off part of the hood, where he got stuck… Eventually he was ceremoniously released (the spice cupboard had to be prised apart with force) and carefully placed outside. Now he can return to his pipe, but with no access into the kitchen!

By the way, I now know that dormice make a kind of buzzing/rattling noise when they feel threatened – click hear and press the play arrow for a recording…

From Wikimedia Commons

Dormice sleep from September to May. In fact they get their name from this trait; dormeus means “sleepy” in Anglo-Norman; the word was later altered to resemble the word “mouse”. They are, however, very active most of the summer, and make a tremendous chattering squeaking noise in the night as they jump through the trees like tiny squirrels. But at this time of year they are looking for a cosy place to hibernate. They eat most of our hazelnuts to fatten up for the winter, but also like small insects, berries, chestnuts and even birds eggs.

Here’s a picture where you can see the bushy tail.

(From Wikimedia Commons)

Other characteristic features are the rounded ears (they have excellent hearing) and the large round eyes. They are so cute too!


Here are some lovely links:

Have you ever had any uninvited guests in your kitchen? ๐Ÿ˜‰

53 thoughts on “A Dormouse (or two, or three, …..)

  1. Ugh, yes! Our house is about 120 years old, built on an area that was previously miles and miles of orange groves. Every so often the rodent population still swells, and everyone around here finds mice or rats where they don’t belong. It’s been quite awhile, which worries me because we might be due, but at least one of our cats is a good mouser so hopefully we’ll be protected when the time comes again. I’m the type to stand on a table and scream so the thought makes me cringe.

    • Well, at least I don’t get freaked out if I see them, unless they take me by surprise! Hope you don’t get any little visitors too soon again. Thanks for your comment!

    • This is the European one, so don’t know if there’s anything similar in your part of the world. The tails are lovely, but sometimes I find Just a tail in the garden…. they have predators enough.

  2. Oh cathy! It is soooo very cute! I know if it was in my kitchen I may not think so but….it IS soooo cute! I am glad you are the kind-hearted person you are and removed the little guy without injury.

    • It was tricky getting him out, but I couldn’t leave him there! He’s probably out and about with his mates again now seeking revenge for being kicked out of his cosy pipe! LOL!

  3. What a sweet little face. You are a good soul, taking such good care to release this critter and then return it to its new found home. Lovely post, great pictures, interesting research. You made me smile.

  4. They are a protected species in the UK, not here, I don’t believe anything is really protected here! In the kitchen I’ve only had moths that want to use my flower to lay their eggs, but in the garden, well that’s another story, this year has been the year of the badgers!

  5. Oh, they are cute :). This year for the first time we have uninvited guests in the vegetable garden (besides the slugs, voles): raccoons! They are not wellcome.

    • Oh dear, they seem to be spreading rapidly… I hope you can save some of your vegetables before they harvest the whole lot! Now what are their predators in Germany? Do you have wolves nearby? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Yes, we have wolves nearby. This summer 2 wolves with 6 youngsters went into a foto trap in our county (Landkreis). I am really happy and hope to see one some one day (in years :)). The only danger for raccoons in Germany are humans. My brother is allowed to set traps…
        Have a wonderful weekend. We have bright sunshine and I am going on a butterfly-excursion. Uta

        • I hope you see wolves one day Uta. It would be wonderful to catch just a glimpse of one in a natural environment. Enjoy your butterfly excursion – sounds delightful! Happy weekend! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. I’m afraid your dormouse isn’t the same as our Dormouse, ours is a protected species. Yours is about 3 times the size and was introduced to Britain in 1902, it is the edible dormouse, edible because the Romans used to keep them in jars and fatten them up to eat!! Scientific name Glis Glis. and is becoming a pain because it lives in peoples roofs and chews through electric wiring! It also hibernates in underground tunnels whereas ours make nests, which we have found in the garden. Coincidence or what – my next post is about the dormice in our garden!!

    • Ours are protected too Pauline, and in our neighbouring countries Switzerland and Austria as well. I’ve also read about them being eaten (some horrible pictures in the Internet), but thankfully no one does that here! We were worried about the electrics in our kitchen, but the poor thing might have died in there and that would have created a terrible stink! Look forward to your post on your dormice! ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. That’s a whole lot of adorable, right there! Well…when he’s outside…not in your cupboards! He looks a bit like the tiny native flying squirrels we have here in New England. They’re seldom seen, but there are colonies in the bigger trees a few miles from here ๐Ÿ™‚

    • A flying squirrel would be a sight to see! Our red squirrels are pretty agile, but fortunately they stay away from the house as they are fairly active all through winter. Thanks for your comment Marie! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • I’m sure he’s been in the pipe again… it’s closed up in the kitchen, but not on the roof opening as we don’t want to trap him in there. He’s not doing any harm there though so he can stay… bet it’s nice and warm as the pipe is close to the heating’s chimney!

  8. I had the whole home sealed they said then 3 flying sqirells were in the bedroom looking for a WAY OUT! Then the MICE is is nuts and a full time job for 1 kitty ๐Ÿ˜ฆ if she finds one has chewed it’s way into the home she will kill it and leave it under the chair at my desk oh what a good girl she is ๐Ÿ™‚

    • We’ve been very lucky so far, maybe because of the dogs… There are mice and voles in the garden, but usually only the odd one or two make it into the cellar.

  9. Very cute but, like most mice, probably at their cutest when they’re outside in their natural habitat! We’ve not had any dormice in the kitchen but plenty of mice brought in by the cats, more often than not still alive and keen to hide under the fridge…

  10. Top pictures! We get naughty little field mice in our house, I cannot bare killing them and end up chasing them around the kitchen with a Tupperware box! They are fast little buggers too! I take them back into the fields and as I let them go I politely ask them to find somewhere better to live than my kitchen cupboards. I simply cannot find how they get into the house, it’s crazy! I can only assume they have had a key cut! X

  11. Well, ordinarily I’m really a little uncomfortable with rodents…even cute ones, but this little guy is perhaps an exception–just NOT in the kitchen! LOL! I’m not sure we have dormice in our part of the world. I’ll have to find out! Those ears really are cute!

    • That’s the thing…. lots of animals are cute and attractive and interesting, but not necessarily in my house or garden! We get lizards and snakes in the rockery, but luckily they have never crossed the patio to the house… yet!

    • ๐Ÿ˜€ I wouldn’t like to try and cuddle one though… they have very strong teeth! We occasionally find a hazelnut shell with a hole in it and the nut has been neatly extracted!

  12. Here’s what the American Heritage Dictionary gives as the etymology of dormouse, which would have nothing to do with doors or mice: “Middle English, probably alteration (influenced by mous, mouse), of Anglo-Norman dormeus, inclined to sleep, hibernating from Old French dormir, to sleep.” Did yours appear sleepy?

  13. Pingback: Spice Cupboard Inspiration | Words and Herbs

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