About animals

Hazel Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)


A very small animal that looks like a mouse from cartoons, and by its behavior like a miniature squirrel, it’s hazel dormouse.

Not so long ago, this small charm could be found from the Baltic to the Volga, but today it is easier to see hazel dormouse in Red Bookthan walking through a park or park. The same situation with the number of these animals is observed throughout the world.

Features and habitat of hazel dormouse

Mousetrap or Hazel DormouseThis is not a mouse or a squirrel. This animal has its own family - "sleepyheads", belonging to a large group of rodents. Even on photo of hazel dormouse it is clear that she is very small. Indeed, of all Sonya, this species is the smallest. The dimensions of the animal are only:

  • from 10 to 15 cm in length, excluding tail,
  • the length of the tail along with the brush is from 6 to 8 cm,
  • weight from 15 to 30 grams.

The greatest pride and feature of these dormouse is their mustache, the length of the mustache reaches 40-45% of the total length of the animal. As for coloring, the animals look like small spots of the sun hidden in the foliage of trees, they have rich red, ocher fur coats, all sunny warm colors, while the tail brush is always darker than the body itself, and the tummy and the inside of the legs are lighter .

In picture books, pictures of hazel dormouse often depicted on tree branches, which is completely reliable, because animals live in mixed and deciduous forests of Europe, starting from the south of Great Britain and ending with the lower Volga region, also lives in northern Turkey.

The only exception is Spain, the moushes do not live in it and have never lived. These animals settle in forests with rich undergrowth, preferring to predominate:

These trees and shrubs most provide dormouse with the products they need. Sonya's coniferous forests are bypassed, but if there are areas with deciduous trees or clearings with abundantly growing fruit shrubs inside the pine forest, the animals willingly settle in such territory.

Also a feature of these animals is their calm attitude towards humans, for example, enough Interesting Facts about hazel dormouse can be found in almost any horticultural partnership in the Yaroslavl region. It was in it, on the territory of our country, that a relatively large number of these animals were preserved in the natural environment.

Sonya is very active in birdhouses, settles in the attics and under the roofs of cottages and is easily tamed literally during the summer season, which is greatly helped by feeding troughs. It is not uncommon for animals to come in this way, summer residents take with them to the city apartments for the winter.

Sony’s captivity is very well tolerated, and the content of the animal is no different from owning a hamster or guinea pig, you just have to consider that the animals lead a nocturnal lifestyle.

The nature and lifestyle of hazel dormouse

Sonya has a settled lifestyle, for each animal its own territory is very important. At the same time, females “walk” only in their plots, the average size of which is from 0.6 to 0.5 hectares, and males travel outside their immediate possessions, ranging from 0.7 to 1 ha.

Sonya activity does not begin at night, but in the evening, shortly before the first twilight, and continues until dawn. In the afternoon, the animals doze, curled up in the nest, for which, in general, they got their name - dormouse.

There are several residential permanent nests-houses on each site in each animal. If the dormouse is built by the dormouse itself, then its diameter is usually from 12 to 20 cm, it is made of twigs, moss, blade of grass and leaves that are securely fastened by Sonya's saliva, which is highly adhesive. The height of the arrangement is never lower than a meter, and higher than two.

However, mouslovki are very unceremonious and willingly occupy other people's hollows and nests, sometimes forcibly "evicting" from there bluebirds, sparrows, redstart and other "legitimate" owners.

As for the character, the dormouse is a loner. With relatives they are found only in the mating season, and even then not always. Moreover, the animals are fearless and very curious, to some extent, they are even gullible and friendly, which, in general, makes their taming quite simple.

For the winter, dormouse hibernate, using underground burrows for this, which they almost never dig themselves, preferring the old dwellings of other rodents. The duration of hibernation depends on temperature and usually lasts from October to May.

Moreover, if the temperature drops below 15 degrees, the mousetraps fall into a sleepy stupor, even in summer. But at a stable temperature above this mark, they do not need a dream at all.

Mousetraps do not make winter stocks, but they insulate the mink for the winter hut very carefully throughout the summer season, with every free minute, which are not so many, especially in females who feed babies.


Though hazel dormouse and vegetarian, but will never pass by bird eggs or a worm. The basis of the ration of animals, however, are:

If the spring is early and warm, that is, the animals wake up early enough, then their nutrition is made up of thin twigs, buds and shoots of plants.

Reproduction and life expectancy of hazel dormouse

Life span hazel dormouse quite small, on average, animals live from 2 to 3 years, but when kept in captivity, their age often steps beyond 6-7 years.

The presence of predators has no influence on the mortality rate, since dormouse do not constitute anyone's diet, extremely rarely becoming accidental prey. A short life span and a very high mortality rate, for example, in the Moscow region, it exceeds 70%, due to the environment and temperature spikes.

The animals mate during the spring-summer season, during which the female can bring 2 litters, in very warm summers - 3 litters. Pregnancy lasts from 22 to 25 days, feeding babies from 25 to 30 days.

However, if the summer turned out to be cold and rainy, the moushes do not mate at all, preferring not to go far from their own houses.

Sonya are born blind and completely helpless, they become like an animal on the 18-20 day of their life. Mushlovki are good parents, there have been no cases of mother eating offspring at any zoo or at private owners of animals. This suggests that in nature, Sony does not kill babies.

Sonya enter an independent life at 35-40 days of age, however, babies from a late litter or who have not found their territory, fall into hibernation with their mother.

Description of hazel dormouse it would be incomplete without mentioning that these animals not only feel good as pets and are easily tamed, willingly changing forests for an aviary in the apartment, but they have been bred and sold as pets for quite some time, there are even clubs for their lovers and peculiar attempts to develop new hybrids and breeds.

Buy hazel dormouseborn at home, you can either by announcement, or in specialized forums for lovers of these animals, or in pet stores. The price of babies varies from 230 to 2000 rubles.

Where does he live

It occurs almost throughout Europe, except for its southwestern part - Spain and Portugal. Everywhere it is rare, on one hectare there are no more than 4 animals. On the territory of Russia is the eastern edge of the range of hazel dormouse. Here it is distributed from the Kaliningrad region to the Volga region, and also forms local populations in the Caucasus.

The favorite habitat of hazel dormouse is the undergrowth of mixed forests with a predominance of hazel, oak, alder and other deciduous trees. However, in some places of its range, it settles in coniferous forests, in others it chooses exclusively deciduous. The main requirement is the presence of hollow trees suitable for nests. If a natural hollow or an artificial hollow is occupied by someone, Hazel sleepy is strong enough to evict the tenants (wagtail or redstart) and settle itself.

What does it look like

If not for the fluffy tail, decorated with a brush, hazel dormouse could be mistaken for a mouse. Hazel dormouse has tenacious paws. They help her climb the bushes and make their way in search of food along the thinnest branches. Light weight - about 25 g and a body length of up to 15 cm allow you to climb along the grass stem. The color of the not too long hair of this animal is buffy-red; in different populations of animals it can vary from almost yellow to light brown. On the side of the abdomen, the coat is white. Vibrissas reach half the body of Sonya and are always in motion, probing the space in front of the animal's face.

Lifestyle and Biology

Hazel dormouse lives mainly in the undergrowth, skillfully climbing shrubs, even on the thinnest and most flexible branches. She is active from dusk until morning. Hazel dormouse - territorial animals. The habitat in males occupies about 1 ha, in females - up to 0.8 ha. Females are saddled, males' routes pass through sections of several females, but sections of females do not intersect.

Each animal has several residential nests. Each such structure is spherical in shape (8-10 cm in diameter) is built of dry leaves, moss and blade of grass. Inside, the nest is lined with soft grass, fluff and soaked strips of bark. The nest is located on a branch, 1–2 m above the ground or in a low hollow. Sonya also willingly occupies birdhouses, titmouses and hollows.

Hazel dormouse feed mainly on seeds of tree and shrub species (nuts, acorns, beech and linden nuts) and a variety of berries and fruits. Hazelnuts are their favorite food, hence the name of this animal. Hazel dormouse cannot crack a ripe nut and therefore gnaws on the still unripe fruits of this plant, making one or two neat round holes in them. In early spring, the animal uses young shoots and buds for food.

Feeding dormouse

Owls, weasels, ermines prey on these animals. In winter, their shallow wintering burrows and nests can be excavated by foxes and wild boars. Sonya has an interesting remedy - if it is suddenly grabbed by the tail, which is often done by predators, then the very thin skin of the tail instantly slides in a stocking, remaining in the teeth or claws of the enemy. This gives hazel sleep a head start in seconds to slip away. Subsequently, the exposed part of the tail disappears.

Of all the species of dormouse living in the European part of Russia, hazel dormouse is most suitable for home maintenance. These animals are easily tamed and can even bring offspring in captivity.

The average life expectancy of hazel dormouse is 3 years, in captivity they live up to 6 years.


In winter, Sonya falls into prolonged hibernation, waking up only in April or May. In the fall, before hibernation, sleepyheads eat heavily. Zoologists are still arguing whether the sleepyhead stores food for the winter. Most likely, it depends on which population the animal lives in, and on the climatic characteristics of the region. For hibernation, they move from nests to underground shelters, often into empty holes of other rodents.

Winter nests are insulated with litter of dry grass, moss, feathers, wool. During hibernation, Sonya's body temperature drops to 0.2–0.5 ° C (at normal animal body temperature of 34–36 ° C), breathing and heartbeat become almost inaudible.

Listed in the Red Book of Russia

Hazel dormouse, or mouslovka, is listed in the IUCN Red List, on the territory of the Russian Federation, in the Red Books of a number of regions, in particular, Moscow and Bryansk. The reason for the decrease in the number of this rodent is the destruction of habitable and breeding stations, and in some areas also the treatment of undergrowth with insecticides in order to combat the ixodid tick.


Kingdom: Animals (Animalia).
A type: Chordates (Chordata).
Grade: Mammals (Mammalia).
Squad: Rodents (Rodentia).
Family: Sonia (Gliridae or Myoxidae).
Gender: Sony Hazel (Muscardinus).
View: Hazel Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius).

Rodent description

Outwardly, sony resemble mice or squirrels. Their body length is 8-20 cm. The tail is in length from 4 to 17 cm, densely pubescent in most species, only in selevinia and mouse-like dormouse - half-naked. The ears are rounded, without tassels. Paws are short, with well-developed sharp claws. The fur is thick and soft. The back is painted from gray to ocher-brown.

Sony Power Features

Sony feed on plant and animal feed. As plant foods, seeds and fruits of trees and shrubs (acorns, linden nuts, beech nuts, apples) are used. Among animal feed, insects are preferred, less often eggs and small chicks are eaten. The composition of the diet for each species closely with the season and habitats.

Sonya Kellen (Graphiurus kelleni)

The distribution area includes tropical and subtropical dry forests, dry and wet savannahs of Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gambia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.

Spectacled or South African Dormouse (Graphiurus ocularis)

The tail is fluffy, resembling squirrel, with white hairs, the muzzle is short, the ears are small, the fur is soft. White and gray specks are located on the muzzle, dark circles are visible around the eyes. Cheeks, tummy and paws on top of white.

They live in the west of South Africa, in rocky areas.

Forest Dormouse (Dryomys nitedula)

Body length up to 12 cm, tail length up to 10 cm. Weight ranges from 30 to 40 g. The fur is grayish-buffy, changeable. For example, in the European part of Russia, it brightens from north to south. In the Caucasus, the Apennines, the Alps and the Balkan Peninsula, forest dormouse is gray. Tummy from grayish to white. The tail is fluffy, dark gray. A dark streak runs from nose to ear.

The species is common in Europe, Transcaucasia and Asia in various types of forests.

Black-tailed Dormouse (Eliomys melanurus)

Body length 10-18 cm, tail length 9-14 cm, weight 45-120 g. The back is brown in color, the belly is whitish. There is a dark “mask” in front of our eyes. The tail is fluffy, the top is black.

The species is distributed from the north-east of Libya to the west of the Arabian Peninsula, and up to southern Turkey.

Garden Dormouse (Eliomys quercinus)

Body length from 11 to 16 cm, tail length from 9 to 14 cm, weight 60-140 g. The muzzle is pointed. The ears are large, without brushes. The eyes are big. The fur is short, on top of gray or brown, the belly is white, the black stripe runs from the eye and slightly further than the ear, the tip of the fluffy tail is decorated with a white tassel.

It lives in deciduous forests and gardens of Western Europe.

Selevinia (Selevinia betpakdalaensis)

Body length about 10 cm, tail length up to 7.5 cm, weight about 30-35 g. Wool is dense, lush. The tail is densely covered with short hairs. The back is gray, the belly is whitish. The ears are large, the animal is able to fold them into a tube and unfold like a fan.

A rare species, is endemic to Kazakhstan, where it lives in deserts.

Hazel Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)

Body length about 15 cm, weight from 15 to 25 g. Tail in length from 6 to 8 cm, with a brush. The muzzle is blunt, the ears are small, rounded in shape, the mustache is long. The back is ocher-red, rarely with a reddish tint, the abdomen is light with a fawn tint. The throat, chest and tummy are light. Fingers are white. The tip of the tail is dark or light.

It is found in deciduous and mixed forests of Europe and northern Turkey.

Sonya Polchok (Glis glis)

The largest of Sonya with a body length of 13 to 18 cm, weighing 150-180 g. It looks like a gray squirrel, but there are no tassels on the rounded ears. The tail is 11 to 16 cm long, fluffy, gray on top, and whitish below. The fur is fluffy and fluffy, smoky gray or grayish brown on the back and light gray, yellowish or white on the belly. Periocular rings dark, thin.

The habitat includes the flat and mountain forests of Europe, the Caucasus and Transcaucasia. It is found on the islands of the Mediterranean Sea: Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Crete and Corfu.

Sony behavior

Most sleepyheads are forest animals and are nocturnal. They also live in the forest-steppe, in the mountains at an altitude of 3500 m above sea level, deserts, savannahs. Some dormouse (dormouse-dormouse) spend almost all their time on trees, others (mouse dormouse) live on the ground. Sony shelters are arranged in hollows, nests, in minks, under the roots of trees.

Sony breeding

Their nests of round shape from foliage and dormouse grass are located in the crown of trees at an altitude of about 3 m above the ground. Females actively protect them. Females bring one or two litters per year. The duration of pregnancy is 22-28 days. In one brood from 2 to 9 babies. They become independent after a month.

Sony's life expectancy in nature is from 2 to 5.5 years.

Interesting facts about the rodent:

  • Closer to autumn, sony eat away and fall into hibernation for the winter, which lasts up to six months. It was this habit that caused the name of the species.
  • If a person or a predator catches Sonya and accidentally grabs the animal by the tail, then the skin on it tears and peels off like a stocking, and Sonya flees. Then the bare tip of the tail dries up and the dead part disappears. Over time, the end of the tail expands and acquires wool.
  • Sometimes sleepyheads damage garden crops.
  • Skins of large types of dormouse are prepared as secondary furs.


Hazel dormouse, or mouslovka (lat. Muscardinus avellanarius) - one of the smallest representatives of the Sonev family (lat. Gliridae). The small fluffy rodent looks very much like a squirrel. In most European countries it is under state protection.

In ancient Rome, it was considered an exquisite delicacy served on the table of the patricians and wealthy plebeians.

Ancient Roman chefs cooked it in boiled and baked form with obligatory honey sauce. Information about this has been preserved in the “Apsievsky Corps”, the only surviving culinary treatise of the late IV or early V century.

During the Renaissance, when all progressive mankind tried to imitate ancient heroes, the number of hazel dormouse in Europe decreased significantly. The second blow to its population was the massive deforestation and groves in the northern borders of the range.

Only from 2000 to 2016 in Wales and England, cute animals became one third less. In Sweden, Denmark and Germany they are almost gone. The German Society for the Conservation of Nature has chosen the trowel as the symbol of 2017.


Previously, the species was widespread throughout the European continent from the UK to the western regions of Russia and Asia Minor. Currently, it lives mainly in southern European countries with the exception of Spain. He prefers to settle in mixed forests and hazels with a predominance of berry and fruit shrubs. It is found in mountainous areas at altitudes of up to 1,500 m above sea level.

Mushlovki love orchards and are not afraid of the presence of man. Some particularly advanced individuals manage to settle on the roofs of houses or use ready-made birdhouses. The harmless little animals are easily tamed and very comfortable in room conditions.

Sony lead a sedentary lifestyle. Each rodent has its own home plot and several residential nests. In females, its area is 0.5-0.6 ha, and in males it is twice as large. During the day, the animal sleeps in a secluded shelter, and activity begins to show in the evening shortly before dusk. Just before dawn he returns home and spends all the daylight hours in the arms of sleep.

The spherical nest is located at a height of 1-2 m above the ground on branches or in hollows of trees. It is built from building materials available in the area. In the course are leaves, grass and twigs. They are fastened together with sticky saliva.

Females do not leave the boundaries of their possessions, and males love to travel to foreign lands, mainly of the opposite sex.

The animals mark their lands with urine and secretions of odorous anal glands. They try to avoid a fight with relatives and behave extremely tolerantly towards each other.

With a lack of food supply and cooling in the summer, they fall into suspended animation, which is accompanied by a significant decrease in body temperature and metabolic processes in the body.

External characteristics

The body length is 7.5-8 cm, and the tail 5.5-8 cm. Weight 15-25 g. The color of the fur is dominated by ocher-red tones with a slight reddish tint. The abdomen is lighter, often fawn. There may be whitish spots on the throat and lower body. Fingers are white. The long tail ends with a fluffy dark, less often light tassel.

The muzzle is a little pressed. The rounded ears are small in size. The mustache is long, up to 2-3.5 cm long. The eyes are large, black.

The life expectancy of hazel dormouse does not exceed 3-4 years.


Broad-leaved plain and mountain forests of Europe and Asia Minor, some islands of the Mediterranean Sea. Information about the current distribution of the species in the Moscow region is scarce and fragmentary. Meetings were recorded in the Tesovsky forest (the border of the Mozhaisk and Ruzsky districts), in Serpukhov, Sergiev Posad (1), and Leninsky (2) districts.

In the first half of the twentieth century. Met in the same Tesovsky forest in the vicinity of Mozhaysk, near Podolsk, in the vicinity of Sergiev Posad, near the railway station stations Ashukinskaya and Pravda (Pushkin district), about with. Yazykovo (Dmitrovsky district), on the border of the Leninsky and Odintsovo districts (3).

The number and trends of its change

The current abundance of the species in the region is apparently small, although specific data are not available due to a secretive lifestyle. However, it is known that in previous years the number of places could be quite significant. So, in the fall of 1950, in the south of the Moscow Region, 64 hazel dormouse were taken into account on one of the test areas of 20 ha (4). In general, hazel dormouse is more common in the Moscow region than other types of dormouse.

Features of biology and ecology

It lives in broad-leaved and mixed forests with dense undergrowth, in coppices, gardens, in high-stemmed forests, settles along the fringes among thickets of bushes. Leads a nocturnal lifestyle. Lives in skillfully constructed nests and hollows. It feeds on nuts, acorns, seeds, berries, and eats insects. Gives one or two litters of 3-5 young each year (4).

Protected Areas

The species is listed in the Red Books of adjacent areas: Tula, Ryazan (2001) and Tverskaya (2002), as well as in the Red Book of Moscow (2001). In the first edition of the Red Book of the Moscow Region (1998), the species was included in the list of Appendix 1. In this edition, hazel dormouse is listed in the main list of the Red Book of the Moscow Region. The habitats of the species in the Moscow region are protected in the PTZ and NP Elk Island.