Saturday 25 May
Asian garden dormouse (Eliomys melanurus)
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Asian garden dormouse fact file
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Asian garden dormouse description
The agile Asian garden dormouse is well-adapted for climbing around the rocky surfaces and vegetation of its habitat (3). It has four digits on the forefeet and five digits on the hind feet, with short, curved claws suited to climbing, and the soles of the feet have a cushion-like covering (3). It has short fur, ranging through various shades of grey and brown on the upperparts and creamy white on the underparts, and black markings adorn the face. A black tuft at the tip of the tail may act as a decoy to distract the attention of predators away from the head and body (2). While the Asian garden dormouse’s brilliant sense of hearing usually helps it to detect the approach of stealthy predators, it can shed its long tail if seized by a predator such as an owl (3). The Asian garden dormouse has the ability to produce clicks, whistles and growls, in a range of situations (3).Top
Asian garden dormouse biology
A largely nocturnal species, the Asian garden dormouse seeks shelter during the day in hollow trees and crevices among rocks, and may occasionally use a bird or squirrel nest as a foundation for building a shelter (2). Large numbers of individuals may live together in a relatively small area, sharing sleeping and feeding sites (2).
The Asian garden dormouse is one of the most carnivorous of all dormice (3). While its diet includes any nuts and fruits it can obtain, it is believed to primarily be a predator, preying on insects, small rodents and young birds (2). In some parts of its range, the Asian garden dormouse gains weight in autumn in preparation for a hibernation period, in order to avoid the perils of the coldest part of the winter (2).
During the mating season, the female Asian garden dormouse uses a whistle to attract a male. Once successful mating has occurred the female marks the area around the nest with scent and defends the area from intruders (3). The nest is a compact, round structure made of leaves and grass and situated up to three metres off the ground (2). Typically, one litter is produced each year (3), with each litter containing from two to eight young, born after a gestation period of 22 to 28 days (2). First opening their eyes at about 21 days of age, the young are weaned after 4 weeks, and may live for over 5 years (2).Top
Asian garden dormouse range
The Asian garden dormouse is found in north-east Africa and the Middle East, where it occurs from low-lying deserts up to 2,850 metres above sea level (1).Top
Asian garden dormouse habitatTop
Asian garden dormouse status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Asian garden dormouse threats
The Asian garden dormouse is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction, as it has a wide range and is not thought to be facing any serious threats. However, overgrazing and loss of vegetation may be a problem for this species in some areas (1).Top
Asian garden dormouse conservation
The Asian garden dormouse is offered some protection by its occurrence in a number of protected areas, but there are no known specific conservation measures currently in place for this species (1).Top
Checked (24/08/10) by Dr Francis Gilbert, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham.
- Feeding on flesh.
- The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
- A winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an animal’s metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer.
- Active at night.
- Natural grassland with low rainfall. In Africa this lies in the transition zone between savanna and severe desert.
IUCN Red List (April, 2010)
- Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
- Baudoin, C. (2001) Dormice. In: Macdonald, D.W. (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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