Fun Forest Dormouse Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 12, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Sep 23, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Forest dormouse facts are unbelievable and interesting.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

Forest dormice (Dryomys nitedula) are nocturnal animals with a very close resemblance to wild squirrels in both their appearance and behavior. A forest dormouse (Dryomys nitedula) also hibernates and is nocturnal. In countries like Israel, even at higher altitudes, these forest dormice remain active all year round.

In northern parts of their geographic distribution, such as in Europe, the forest dormouse (Dyomys nitedula) starts hibernating in the month of October and continues through April. During hibernation, a forest dormouse sits on its hind legs, curls up into a ball, wraps its own tail around its body, and presses its hands to its cheeks. This species of mammal occasionally emerges from their hibernation to eat food from their stores.

This lifestyle of hibernation has become the most significant trait of a forest dormouse (Dyomys nitedula). However, after emerging from its hibernation, this species becomes a very active and incredibly athletic creature. These adaptations for speed and acrobatics help a forest dormouse avoid its predators and search for food. 

If you find facts about rare animals interesting, consider checking out other such animals. For more relatable content, check out these wood mouse facts and kangaroo rat facts for kids.

Forest Dormouse Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a forest dormouse?

A forest dormouse (Dryomys Nitedula) is a species of wild mouse species belonging to the Gliridae family.

What class of animal does a forest dormouse belong to?

A forest dormouse (Dryomys nitedula) belongs to the class of Mammalia, similar to species like the wood mouse, the white-footed mouse, and the dusky hopping mouse.

How many forest dormice are there in the world?

As per research, there are currently close to 30 species of dormice spread all around the eastern hemisphere.

Where does a forest dormouse live?

The forest dormouse (Dryomys nitedula) is a tree climber and the species prefers to stay in trees rather than hunt on the ground. As the species cannot survive well in extreme climates, their choice of dwelling is in areas such as deciduous forests, hedgerows, wetlands, and evergreen shrubland. The forest dormouse (Dryomys nitedula) is a species most comfortable in woodlands and usually lives there.

What is a forest dormouse's habitat?

The forest dormouse lives in a dense forest habitat. This species is usually found either in mixed deciduous forests or in shrublands. They have an elevation range of 11,483 ft (3,500 m). They avoid predators on the ground and feed on small insects and invertebrates, which they get an ample amount of up in the trees in the forests.

Forest dormice are also found in cultivated fields and garden areas. They build their nest in the lower branches of trees in forests or dense shrubberies.

Who do forest dormice live with?

Forest dormice are found in family groups. After they are done hibernating through the winter for the first time, they become sexually mature and are ready to breed.

Male dormice are territorial and fiercely defend their territory from outside incursion by other dormice. The female dormice also have a territory but are usually far less aggressive.

These species usually use secretions to mark their territory from other members of the Gliridae genus.

How long does a forest dormouse live?

The average lifespan of the forest dormouse (Dryomys nitedula) is up to five years. They are often preyed upon by terrestrial animals like beavers or aerial animals like birds prey.

How do they reproduce?

Unfortunately, due to a lack of research, no proper information is available about the reproductive cycle of the forest dormice. However, in some studies on them and other members of the Gliridae genus, it is evident that the reproductive cycle of forest dormice varies according to their geographic location and where they have built their nest.

For example, the breeding cycle in the Israeli population starts in March and continues until December. The average litter size of the female dormouse is within the range of two to three babies born per cycle.

However, the breeding season of the population throughout Europe starts from May and lasts until August, and usually, the female dormouse produces one litter each year. The incubation period lasts for about 21-30 days.

A young dormouse when born has a weight of about 0.1 oz (2 g). They cannot open their eyes until they are 16 days old. In Europe, the young breed only after their first winter.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN Redlist declared this living species as of Least Concern, indicating that the population trend of this species is stable.

Forest Dormouse Fun Facts

What do forest dormice look like?

The forest dormouse is similar to an African forest dormouse and a Baluchistan forest dormouse. The species, belonging to the Gliridae family, has a very small body with a long tail, and its total body length is in the range of 3.1-5.1 in (8-13 cm). The species lives in trees and are generally seen living throughout the mixed forests of eastern parts of the world.

Forest dormice have a close resemblance to squirrels. They have a grayish-brown to yellowish-brown upperside and a buff-white underside. They have little orange ears and a wide bushy tail that is uniform in color.

Due to their appearance, even experts may get this family confused with similar rodents.

How cute are they?

Due to the species being small rodents, this automatically makes them cute. For some, the forest dormouse may appear wild, but their similarity to a mouse and a squirrel means they do look very cute to others.

How do they communicate?

Forest dormice have developed a low, melodious squeak that sounds like an alarm call when moving around in their natural habitat. Research has shown that captive dormice have the ability to emit repeated ultrasounds for communication.

How big is a forest dormouse?

The total length of a forest dormouse is in the range of 3.1-5.1 in (8-13 cm), while other rodents like the edible dormice are 5.5-7.5 in (14-19 cm) long, making them the largest species of dormice.

On the other hand, the Japanese dormouse has a total length of 3 in (7.6 cm) and hence, is considered the smallest species of dormouse in Asia.

How fast can a forest dormouse move?

These forest dormice are found to be very agile and athletic. They love to climb trees, burrow holes and build nests, though the exact speed at which they move is unknown.

How much does a forest dormouse weigh?

The average weight of this species is in the range of 0.6-1.3 oz (18-36 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Forest dormice do not have sex-specific names for males and females.

What would you call a baby forest dormouse?

There is no specific name for a young forest dormouse.

What do they eat?

In eastern parts of the world, these mammals are found eating fruits from trees. In central Asia, they are found eating insects like pillbugs and kudzu bugs. They often feed on other invertebrates and fruits as well.

Forest dormice, in turn, are predated by owls, weasels, and snakes.

Are they dangerous?

Though they are wild animals, there is no specific evidence for Dryomys nitedula for being dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

The forest mouse is considered to be an exotic pet, and not only in Asia. They are also a very popular choice of pet in other parts of the world.

Did you know...

Recently, in a lakebed in China, a well-preserved fossil of a forest dormouse was found in its entirety. So now there is reason to believe that it is the earliest eutherian ancestor.

The time of the breeding cycle in the Israeli population starts in March and continues until December. In Europe, the time this dormouse starts hibernating is in the month of October and continues through April.

Why is a dormouse active at night?

Dormice are nocturnal by nature because they prefer to avoid predators during the day. They use their large eyes, long whiskers, and excellent sense of smell to find their way through the dark. They keep themselves busy throughout the night and rest during the day. They are much more agile than other mice.

Why is the Balochistan forest dormouse endangered?

According to the IUCN Red List, the dry steppe juniper forest in the Baluchistan Province, where a wide range of animal lives, has been greatly fragmented and degraded due to overgrazing by livestock, removal of wood, and expanding agriculture and human settlements, bringing the population range of this species to a new low every day.

To conserve such species in their last steps toward extinction, teams are targeting specific areas where special site management and site protection are implemented, to protect the last of this species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our brush mouse interesting facts and gerbil surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable garden dormouse coloring pages.

Forest Dormouse Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Invertebrates and baby birds

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

2-5 per cycle

How Much Did They Weigh?

0.6-1.3 oz (18-36 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?

forests, shrublands, rocky areas

Where Do They Live?

europe, North Africa, japan

How Long Were They?

Body length: 3.1-5.1 in (8-13 cm) Tail Length: 2.4-4.3 in (6-11 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Dryomys nitedula

What Do They Look Like?

Gray, brown

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?


What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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