Animal Library: Dormice

Please enjoy this information based on our experience, but we no longer breed the animals below, or have any contacts for them.

Dormice

(Dormice)

History of Dormice at Millermeade Farms

    • Dormice were one of the very first exotics we began to breed here at Millermeade Farms.
    • We found they were fairly easy to breed but rather difficult to determine their gender and even harder to hold onto.
    • Our animal adventure began in our basement and I hate to think how many dormice zoomed up my arm and off my shoulder before I could catch them.  It is a good thing that as I gained critter knowledge I also gained a greater speed in catching loose critters!
    • In June 2001, a monkey pox outbreak triggered the CDC and FDA to put into place a ban and embargo on the importation of all African Rodents and a ban on all movement of six species of African Rodents including the dormice.
    • No longer could any dormice be transported (unless to the veterinarian with permission) much less sold, traded, or given away.  In the beginning no one knew how long the embargo would be in place.
    • Millermeade Farms had the privilege to work in cooperation with a world-renowned virologist at Saint Louis University who studied monkey pox.  Our colony ultimately went to Saint Louis University.
    • Thanks to many years of research the ban on prairie dogs and dormice is now lifted.  Unfortunately for dormice enthusiasts almost all captive breeding programs have died out.  African rodents still may not be imported into the United States so it is understandable the difficulty breeders are having in procuring new animals.

There are 9 recent genera and 20 species in the dormouse family.

The fat or edible dormouse (Glis glis) is the largest dormouse species. In ancient Rome, dormice were a delicacy. They were raised in cages and fattened on a diet of chestnuts and acorns.

The Glis glis is not commonly found in the exotic pet industry. African dormice are commonly kept as an exotic pet in the U.S. They are classified under the Genus Graphiurus. There are 10 species in this genus.

Cage and Equipment Requirements

  • I use a 10 gallon glass aquarium with a water bottle, water bottle hanger, bedding, two ceramic crocks for food, and a tight fitting lid. A tight fitting lid is a must because dormice are escape artists.
  • Accessories can include clay flowerpots, PVC tubes, and other objects to hide in.

Bedding

  • White pine shavings, corn cob bedding, aspen shavings, aspen pellets, or other commercial bedding is acceptable.
  • Never use cedar shavings because the oils and dust from cedar can be harmful to small mammals.

Food

  • I feed my dormice three types of food: cat food, seeds and nuts, and fresh fruit.
  • Many types of bird and sunflower seeds are acceptable. I have found that the dormice tend to prefer the larger types of seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin.
  • Just about any type of fresh fruits and vegetables are acceptable with the exception of citrus fruits. The acid in citrus fruits tends to make dormice urine more pungent.
  • Treats can include meal worms (only one or two per day), hard boiled egg, scrambled egg, tuna, plain cooked chicken and canned cat food.

Care

  • Keep your dormice out of drafts and in a warm location (preferably 70° F and 80° F).
  • Baby dormice should be kept on a heating pad or some other heat source.
  • If you want to discourage breeding, keep the dormice at a lower temperature (60° F to 70° F).
  • It is very difficult to determine the sex of young dormice, so you may be surprised that you have babies when the dormice reach about nine months old, or you may be disappointed that you do not have a breeding pair.
  • If you have more than one dormouse it is very important that you provide many tubes, tunnels and/or places for them to hide. If they can not get away from each other they may fight to the point of death.
  • Dormice love to run in wheels, however if there are more than one dormouse in the same cage you may run the risk of one getting caught in the wheel while another one is running in it.
  • Dormice are nocturnal so they are very active at night. I have used a red light to watch their activities at night without disturbing their play.

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