Dormouse - Myth and Truth

Dormouse - Myth and Truth

the essentials in brief

  • Dormice can often be heard at night; They also leave traces of excrement and nibble on cables and insulation
  • A live trap is the best way to get rid of a dormouse in an animal-friendly manner
  • Dormouse day is June 27th, an important date for farmers, because the weather on that day is decisive for the next seven weeks according to farmers' rule

Detect presence in the house

As nocturnal, shy escape animals, dormice are almost invisible to humans. Nonetheless, the funny fur bearers can become annoying roommates if they make themselves comfortable in the attic as uninvited guests. Dormice, along with martens and raccoons, are among the usual suspects when nocturnal poltergeists rob you of your sleep. You can tell the presence of dormice in the house by these clues:

  • Loud voice : cackling, whistling, squeaking sounds at night
  • Traces of feces : bean-shaped, 1-2 cm long
  • Damage : nibbled insulation and cables

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If you want to make sure that there are dormice in your attic and not other animals, sprinkle some flour on the screed. The step seal reliably reveals the bilch. The forefoot print is 10-15 mm long and 10 mm wide. The hind foot leaves marks 20-35 mm long and 10 mm wide. The front and rear feet are close together with all toes pointing forward. Characteristic are circular soles, the ball of which creates a teardrop-shaped imprint.

Getting Rid of Furry Poltergeister - Tips & Tricks

Have you unmasked dormice as nocturnal troublemakers based on the evidence explained? Then the question arises, how do you get rid of the Radau brothers without causing them harm. Lethal agents such as rat poison are taboo, because no dormouse should be sentenced to death for making noise at night. The following two methods have worked well in practice to remove uninvited dormice from your home:

Capture and release


The best time is in April and May. From the beginning of June there is a risk that you rob young animals with the catch of their suckling mother and deliver them to an agonizing starvation. Please use a sufficiently large live trap with minimum dimensions of 10 cm x 10 cm x 25 cm. So that a dormouse does not get its long tail caught in the closing door, make sure there is a gap of about 6 mm. Fruits, hazelnuts, beechnuts, dried meat or hamster food are used as bait. As an insider tip, the tip to use peanut butter as a lure is circulating.

Check the trap every hour to reduce the stress of a trapped animal to a minimum. Transport the trap and dormouse to an exposure site that is at least 10 kilometers away. Choose a region that offers the dormouse good chances of survival, such as the edge of a forest. Nevertheless, the dormouse will have a hard time in the new habitat. By nature, dormice are extremely local and defend their territory with vehemence. If there are already other dormice at the location, they will drive the newcomer away again.

Grief with home remedies

Instead of catching unwanted dormice in the house and delivering them to an uncertain fate in a distant place, responsible animal lovers decide to chase the Poltergeister away. The following home remedies have proven themselves to be powerful deterrents because they attack the fine bilch noses with strong smells:

  • Sprinkle with pepper
  • Rub the bottom with vinegar
  • Place bowls of essential oils, such as eucalyptus or tea tree oil
  • Soak cloths with Karbolineum and distribute (caution: risk of fire)

Frankincense is traded as a miracle cure against the plague. For several days, the rooms are smoked with incense to unmistakably suggest that the dormice who live there move. In contrast, all methods that produce noise, music or ultrasound tones have proven to be ineffective.

What are dormice?

The meaning of the term dormouse goes far beyond the liturgical day of remembrance and the traditional peasant rule. In fact, the term hides a rodent that few people see. Dormouse is a nocturnal rodent that prefers to live deep in the forest. The furry animal is very small, with a silhouette reminiscent of squirrels and gray squirrels. The cute goblin from the dormouse family owes its second name 'dormouse' to a hibernation of more than seven months.

Where to find the dormouse

Popular beliefs and errors

In fact, there is no meaningful connection between dormouse day (memorial day and peasant rule) and dormouse (rodent). Popular belief, however, does not care that there is no rational interrelation between the two terms. The similarity of names was sufficient to build a bridge between the date and the species, paved with superstitious pseudo-wisdom. Depending on the mood and mood of the residents, the presence of dormice was interpreted as a good or bad omen.

Dormouse in profile

Once all the myths, legends and misconceptions about the dormouse have been dispelled, a colorful array of exciting facts remains. The following profile summarizes what makes these cute rodents valuable and unique treasures of nature:

  • Family : Bilche (Gliridae)
  • Species : Dormouse (Glis glis)
  • Distribution area : continental Europe, mainly deciduous forests, parks and gardens
  • Color : gray on top, white on the bottom
  • Head to tail length : 25 to 30 cm
  • Weight : 80 to 120 g in summer, 100 to 160 g in winter
  • Life expectancy : up to 9 years
  • Activity : nocturnal and far from the ground
  • Hibernation : mid-September to mid / late May
  • Communication : extensive repertoire
  • Special feature : skilled climber thanks to soles containing secretions

The adaptability of dormice is particularly expressed in the menu. The motto is: everything that makes you fat also tastes good. This principle makes sleeping mice real omnivores with a special weakness for nuts. As long as acorns, beechnuts and hazelnuts are not available as favorite food, fruit, carrots, hamster food, dog biscuits, biscuits, sausage, bacon, insects, mealworms and hard-boiled eggs are eaten.

Dormouse live according to the motto 'try it comfortably'

Distinguish between dormice and squirrels


At first glance, they look very similar. Only on closer inspection do the differences between dormouse and squirrel become apparent. So that you know in the future who you will meet in the forest, garden or house, the following table compares important attributes of the two rodents:

Coat colorgray-brown, white bellyFox red to dark brown, white to cream-colored belly
Size (including tail)20-30 cm35-45 cm
Hull length13-18 cm20-25 cm
Tail length11-15 cm15-20 cm
Weight80-160 g200-400 g
eyeslarge black spherical eyesdark brown, light-rimmed, slightly oval eyes
Earsplump, almost nakedBrush ears 2-3 cm long

The most striking difference between the cute rodents is their rhythm of life. Dormouse are nocturnal. The particularly large eyes are not the only way to orientate yourself in the dark. Furthermore, six centimeters long whiskers and several hairy tactile mounds on the face, chin and forearms are helpful. Squirrels, on the other hand, are diurnal all year round. They also have whiskers, but they are less pronounced. These so-called vibrissae are located on the snout, above the eyes, on the legs, belly and above the base of the tail.


Ingenious defense strategy

If a dormouse is in danger, it simply throws off its tail. Its enemies seek to grab the animal by the tail during chases. This leads to the loss of the tail skin. The tail and hair tear off at a predetermined breaking point and are pulled off the tail skeleton in a flash. What remains are skinless tail vertebrae that either fall off or are eaten off by the affected animal itself. Within a short time the dormouse grows a new tail.

Interesting facts about dormouse day

The term dormouse is known to many people in connection with an old farmer's rule. Accordingly, the weather on dormouse day, June 27th, is decisive for the following seven weeks. Thus, the date is one of the so-called Lost Days in the traditional farmer's calendar, which serve as an orientation for the performance of important work in agriculture, including St. John's Day on June 24th or the ice saints in mid-May. The dormouse day functions primarily as a weather forecast, accompanied by well-known sayings such as “If the sun shines on the dormouse, there are seven weeks of bliss”.

From a calendar perspective, June 27 is a liturgical day of remembrance for the “Seven Sleepers of Ephesus”. Legend has it that seven young Christians sought refuge in a mountain cave from the captors of Emperor Decius (249-251). There they were discovered by their persecutors and walled in alive. Protected by God, the Christians did not die, but slept until June 27, 446. On this day they were discovered by chance and awoke. The dormouse cave can still be visited in Ephesus in the Turkish province of Izmir.

The legend of the saints can be read in a modified version in the Koran. Furthermore, Syrian and Greek versions tell of a similar course of the myth about the seven sleepers. An informative article on Wikipedia is devoted to the cross-religion legend in a clear and detailed manner.

Nocturnal lifestyle

Dormice are real night owls. The animals sleep through the day in tree hollows, holes in the ground and similar hiding spots such as uninhabited bird nesting boxes or bat houses. When it gets dark, the rodents wake up and go in search of food. As excellent climbers, dormice prefer to live on trees in large deciduous and mixed forests. Shrinking habitats force the shy fur wearers to seek proximity to people more and more often. The following places act as dormouse quarters:

  • in the forest : uninhabited woodpecker holes, empty tree holes, preferably in oaks and beeches
  • in the garden : tree hollows in orchards, abandoned birdhouses, quiet niches in the garden shed
  • in the house : in the attic, in the roof, in the roller shutter box

If the sleeping quarters are close to people, dormice make themselves unpopular as nocturnal poltergeists. Police stations can tell a song about the number of times the frightened residents call 911 because of suspicious noises. On closer inspection, the alleged intruders turn out to be lively dormice who quack loudly and rumble around. The following video, which shows an English dormouse species that snores, gives an idea of ​​the noise level the funny Radau brothers are capable of:


Reproduction primarily after fattening years

One month after the end of hibernation, the mating season begins for dormice. Obviously, whether it actually multiplies depends on the tree fruits food available from last year. Scientists found that after a lean autumn with few beechnuts, most male dormice develop no or tiny sexual organs. On the other hand, if hibernation was preceded by a so-called fattening year with beechnuts in abundance, family planning is tackled.

For a short time dormice give up their hermit life and lay a nest together as future parents. The preferred kindergarten is a tree hollow, which is lovingly padded with feathers, moss, soft leaves and animal hair. After a gestation period of four weeks, four to six young, naked dormice see the light of day. After just six weeks, the young animals are weaned from breast milk and start eating solid food. The young dormice become independent after about two months.

Epic long hibernation


In autumn, dormice try tirelessly to put on a thick pad of fat. For good reason, because a long hibernation of up to nine months depletes 35 to 50 percent of the fat reserves. That is more than twice as long as hedgehogs hibernate. By mid-September at the latest, dormice dig themselves 50 to 100 centimeters deep into the earth and adopt a spherical posture. The cave itself is hardly bigger than the tired sleeping mice, so that as little heat as possible is lost in winter. Of course, doubling your body weight and tailor-made winter quarters are not enough to survive the cold season in good health. With this ingenious strategy, a dormouse rounds off the external framework:

  • Lowering the body temperature : from around 35 degrees to 3 to 5 degrees Celsius
  • greatly reduced heart rate : from 300 to 5 beats per minute
  • Immobility : rigid, still posture

Dormice do not persist in this death-like state. There are short wake-up and warm-up phases at irregular intervals so that the cells do not die in the winter cold. The survivors also use this energy-saving mode in summer when food is scarce and family planning is postponed until next year. In field tests, scientists have observed that male dormice immediately went back to sleep if they were unable to reproduce due to a lack of sexual organs.


A personal encounter with dormice is rare. In order to take a closer look at the unique survival and climbing artists, the German Wildlife Foundation has dedicated an Internet presence to the dormouse with pictures that are well worth seeing. You can see the little rodent in great detail on numerous, larger-than-life photos.

Dormouse is worth protecting

Shrinking habitats, extremely long winters, a variety of predators, and ruthless people caught in superstition have caused worrying population decline. In order to draw attention to the many threats, the dormouse was named Animal of the Year in Germany in 2004. The Bern Convention takes this into account by listing dormice at least in Appendix III. As a result, it is forbidden to catch, kill, buy or sell dormice and keep them in cages.

The Naturschutzbund Deutschland eV (NABU) never tires of drawing attention to the risk situation and assigns dormice to animal species that are worth protecting. In Austria, nature conservation associations are also sensitized to the worsening threat situation and advocate placing dormice under strict protection. In Switzerland, the cute goblins have been subject to nature conservation in most cantons since 2010.

The dormouse is not yet acutely threatened with extinction, so the World Conservation Organization (IUCN) has declared the species as not endangered. It is due to the careful treatment of people with nature in general and dormice in particular that it stays that way.

View this post on Instagram

On the occasion of yesterday's dormouse 🐹 and the persistent heat 🏜, a small appeal: Please provide water bowls for the animals! 💦 Last year I rescued this little guy who was presumably rejected by his mother because she was dehydrated and could no longer produce milk. 😪 If you find such an animal: Please do not take care of it yourself before you have called a professional (ignorance can cause a lot of damage, cow's milk is very harmful for the little ones, for example), it is better to go straight to the nearest rescue station, they have everything there, what is needed and know their way around.👍 # heat2019 # sommerhitze2019 #hitzefrei # hitzefrei2019 # outdoor pool weather #dienaturhatdurst # drought2019 # dormouse # dormouse day # squirrel # baby animals # baby animal # baby screen sleeper # animal rescue # good holiday # animal beds # blogging # water protection # nature protection

A post shared by I ♥ ️ Planet Earth 🌍 (@ be.wu.wa) on Jun 28, 2019 at 7:21 am PDT

Keeping dormice as pets - is that possible?

Their cute appearance is tempting to keep dormice as pets. This is of course a difficult undertaking that often ends in a bitter disappointment for humans and animals. Dormice kept alone suffer extremely from loneliness and develop stereotypes such as wound licking or desperate tearing of their fur. Dormice living in the house and apartment usually fail to hibernate, which considerably shortens their life expectancy.

Raising baby dormice for keeping as pets poses a particular challenge. Feeding is just as delicate and risky as it is with baby mice. If only one drop of rearing milk gets into the mouth, it can lead to pneumonia or even death from suffocation. If the food is not massaged into the stomach, the animal cannot excrete any feces or urine and dies in agony.

If young dormice have survived the baby phase healthy and eat solid food, the magic of the booth starts. Even at the age of a few weeks, the tots are very active climbing artists and brilliant escapees. The bullies effortlessly find an escape route from every dwelling and scurry through the apartment at night. If their proud owner wants to enjoy the lively hustle and bustle during the day, the night owls sleep soundly. This excludes the establishment of an intimate relationship, which is common with dogs, cats or budgies as pets.

Temporary keeping as a pet - this is how it works

Short-term keeping of dormice as pets can be life-saving. This applies to weakened, homeless animals that are found in the garden or forest and can eat on their own. The distressed dormouse is nursed up in the house with the aim of being released into the wild as soon as possible. This is how it works:

  • Location : a spacious cage or large terrarium
  • Hiding and playing possibilities : pipe, hamster wheel, hanging rope, ladder
  • Food : fruits, nuts, muesli, hamster food , beechnuts and a bowl of water
  • Dental care : small branches, twigs or gnawing sticks

Edible dormice found in late summer should not be released before winter. The experts at NABU recommend keeping the dormouse affected in the house until spring and only then reintroducing it to the wild. An unheated, quiet stairwell, a cool cellar or simply the space between double windows are suitable as winter quarters. The sleeping area should be dry with temperatures between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius. Provide a small supply of food with a water point, which you should regularly check and refill.


Many lost baby dormice are brought back by the mother. If you have found a young dormouse in the forest or garden, a possible return to the family comes first. Only injured, severely weakened or chilled young animals are left by the mother. Carefully take the foundling in your gloved hand, warm it up and examine it for injuries. For further information, please call the wildlife emergency number or the vet for advice.


Bobo Siebenschläfer - ambassador for a better world

With 'Bobo Siebenschläfer', the legendary children's book author Markus Osterwalder created a title character that is popular around the world. Bobo lets his little readers, two to four years old, take part in many little adventures that he experiences in his everyday life. Wikipedia clearly lists the picture books that have been published since 1984. With the latest collection of stories from spring 2019 under the title 'Off to the outside', Bodo lures little couch potatoes into the fresh air. The little ones can experience successful book adaptations by WDR on YouTube and immerse themselves in an ideal, safe world.

frequently asked Questions

How old do dormice get?

Dormouse can live up to 9 years of age. This is astonishing given its small size and multiple threats. The ingenious survival strategy in the form of up to nine months of hibernation undoubtedly has a decisive influence on the biblical age for small animals. Protected in their up to 1 meter deep cave, predators such as martens, cats, weasels and owls are left behind.

How long do dormice really sleep?

The length of hibernation is flexible and depends on the external conditions. As a rule, dormice overslept the cold season from mid-September to mid / late May. After a particularly harsh winter, sleeping mice sometimes only wake up in June. If your winter quarters are in your house or apartment, the higher temperatures shorten your hibernation by several weeks.

What do dormice eat?

Dormice adapt their menu flexibly to the season. In spring and summer, the diet consists mainly of plant-based foods, such as mushrooms, buds, seeds or fruits. Occasionally, protein-rich bites provide variety, such as insects or bird eggs. The vital fat reserves for the long hibernation are devoured by dormice in autumn with their favorite food in the form of acorns, hazelnuts and beechnuts.

How do you catch dormice?

The best way to catch a dormouse is to use a live trap. Various wire trap models are available from specialist retailers, which you only need to equip with a suitable bait. Pieces of apple have proven themselves well in practice, as the NABU experts reveal. It is important to note that the trap flap does not close completely and injures the sensitive tail.

Are dormice dangerous?

Dormice pose no serious danger to humans or pets, whether in the form of communicable diseases or rabies, or from parasites. Nevertheless, the well-fortified rodents can cause painful bite injuries with their razor-sharp teeth. In order to take in an injured or distressed dormouse, please be sure to wear gloves or cover the dormouse with a towel.


A colorful range of other, surprising meanings is closely related to the term dormouse. You can purchase a modern bed under the brand name Moormann-Siebenschläfer. In Braunschweig, the Siebenschläfer brasserie and cocktail bar invites you to enjoy refreshing drinks. If the term dormouse with 5 letters gives you a headache in the next crossword puzzle, try it with Bilch.