The Dormouse and Squirrel Are Cousins

Do you know that the dormouse and squirrel are cousins? In this article, you will learn that these two rodents share the same family, the Gliridae. This family has large geographical distributions, ranging from Spain in the west to Japan in the east and from Sweden in the north to sub-Saharan Africa in the south. In addition to this, you will learn about the dormouse’s long lifespan and its ability to avoid predators.

Dormice belong to the family Gliridae

Dormice are nocturnal rodents that are found in Eurasia, southern Japan and sub-Saharan Africa. They live in small family groups and exhibit low territoriality. Their home ranges vary from species to species depending on food availability. The dormouse’s digits are covered with short downy fur and have a prehensile tail.

Dormice have large black eyes and round ears. Some species appear to have a dark mask over their eyes to differentiate them from other mice. Their paws and front teeth are perfectly shaped and have claws. Their sharp front teeth help them avoid predators. They also have a thick tongue. Dormice live in many types of habitats, including forests, fields, and wooded areas.

They avoid predators

Dormice and squirrels are highly adaptable mammals, exhibiting cryptic behaviors and extensive hypometabolism. Their unique features enable them to avoid predators and thrive in human habitats. Dormice can hide in a variety of habitats, but prefer to live near river banks and rocky outcrops. These adaptations provide an advantage when avoiding predators and grabbing berries.

A dormouse’s main defenses include speed and agility. It can also regenerate its tail if it is caught by a predator. They are vulnerable during their hibernation period, and are sometimes killed in traps. Moreover, the destruction of their forested habitat is posing a significant threat to the population. Hence, it is crucial to protect these creatures.

They hibernate

The winter is the time of year when dormouse and squirrels hibernation is necessary. These rodents must store up huge reserves of fat so that they can survive for the winter. Unfortunately, hibernation is a dangerous strategy for most animals, and many will die during the process. Grey and red squirrels in the UK do not hibernate, but they do go out less during the winter months.

The first signs that dormice and squirrels are preparing to hibernate are their appearance and their diet. In the spring, dormice feed off the buds of trees. In the summer, they eat insects. In late summer and fall, dormice eat fruit and seed. They also eat snails, young birds, nuts, and seeds. Dormice eat a lot during the fall to build up fat for hibernation.

They have long lifespans

A dormouse or squirrel is a small rodent with a long, distinctive tail. These creatures have large eyes and ears. Their long, furry tails are used for climbing. They are generally solitary animals. While dormice are found across Europe and Asia, they are found in scattered Welsh localities. Some species are endemic to the heart of Europe. They live for decades.

Both dormouse and squirrels have long lifespan, but the difference in longevity between them is very large. In the Sciuridae family, tree squirrels and chipmunks have long lifespans. Tree squirrels can live for up to 24 years, while Indian giant squirrels and red and white flying squirrels can live for up to 21 years. However, there are some differences.

They communicate with each other

The dormouse and squirrel communicate with each other through smell and body language. The dormouse is a nocturnal animal, mainly found in woodlands in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While most dormices are solitary creatures, they sometimes live together in a single burrow to breed or rear their young. They also use various vocalizations to communicate with one another.

Although resembling a mouse, the dormouse is a different species. Their taxonomy is different and their food sources are different. They share a common ancestor around 50 million years ago. After this, they split off, and their lineages diverged. Among the early primate families, the dormouse and squirrel have separate territories and sex dynamics.


What is the scientific name for the squirrel family?




What are the two main types of squirrels?


Tree squirrels and ground squirrels


How many species of squirrel are there in the world?




What is the smallest type of squirrel?


The African pygmy squirrel


What is the largest type of squirrel?


The Indian giant squirrel


What do squirrels eat?


Nuts seeds fruits bark and fungi


Where do squirrels live?


Woodlands urban areas and forests


How long do squirrels live?


Up to 20 years in the wild and up to 10 years in captivity


How do squirrels reproduce?


They give birth to live young usually 2-5 per litter


What is a common predatory threat to squirrels?




What is the scientific name for the dormouse family?




What are the two main types of dormice?


Tree dormice and ground dormice


How many species of dormice are there in the world?




What do dormice eat?


Nuts seeds fruits insects and spiders


Where do dormice live?


Woodlands forests and scrublands

Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.

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