The garden dormouse, which is thought to be most active at night, is reported to move with agility in trees, but can also often be found on the ground (2). It shelters and sleeps in a wide variety of places, from hollow trees and branches (2), to cracks in stones walls and houses (4). Large numbers of this dormouse may be found living close to each other, sharing both sleeping and feeding sites, and except during the mating season, there is no fighting (2).
One of the most carnivorous of dormice, this species feeds on insects, small rodents and young birds, as well as nuts and fruit (2). The proportions of these foods in the diet vary depending on the season; for example, in summer, the garden dormouse eats mainly insects and fruit, while in autumn, the diet consists primarily of fruit. This reduction in protein in the diet helps induce sleep in preparation for hibernation, which, in Europe, usually takes place between October and April (3).
Following the dormouse’s emergence from hibernation, it will begin to look for a mate. Female garden dormice are known to use whistles to attract a male (3). Shortly before giving birth, the female will build a nest, usually a globular structure made of grass, leaves and moss, and lined with hairs and feathers, situated in a hole in a tree or a crook of a branch (3). The female will mark the area with her scent and defend the nest (3), and after a gestation period of 22 to 28 days, a litter of two to eight young are born (2). The tiny young open their eyes only after 21 days, but are weaned by the age of four weeks (2).