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…

Dormouse1

in the hazel trees…

in the woods…

 in the kitchen…

What!!!

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!

Dormouse2

Here are some lovely links:

Have you ever had any uninvited guests in your kitchen? 😉