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Hazel dormouse

(Muscardinus avellanarius)

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Description

The hazel dormouse or common dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) is a small mammal and the only living species in the genus Muscardinus. The hazel dormouse is native to northern Europe and Asia Minor. It is the only dormouse native to the British Isles, and is therefore often referred to simply as the "dormouse" in British sources, although the edible dormouse, Glis glis, has been accidentally introduced and now has an established population. Though Ireland has no native dormouse, the hazel dormouse was discovered in County Kildare in 2010, and appears to be spreading rapidly, helped by the prevalence of hedgerows in the Irish countryside. The United Kingdom distribution of the hazel dormouse can be found on the National Biodiversity Network website. A 2020 study found that hazel dormice in Britain have declined by 51% since 2000. Woodland habitat loss and management and a warming climate are seen as material threats to their future status. According to English Nature's Dormouse Conservation Handbook, hazel dormice are "particularly associated with deciduous woodland" but also inhabit hedgerows and scrub. Dormice seldom travel more than 70 m from their nest. The hazel dormouse can reach a body length of about 10 centimetres (3.9 in) and a length of about 16 centimetres (6.3 in) if you consider the tail as well. It is 6 to 9 cm (2.4 to 3.5 in) long with a tail of 5.7 to 7.5 cm (2.2 to 3.0 in). It weighs 17 to 20 g (0.60 to 0.71 oz), although this increases to 30 to 40 grams (1.1 to 1.4 oz) just before hibernation. This small mammal has reddish brown fur that can vary up to golden-brown or yellow-orange-brown becoming lighter in the lower part. Eyes are large and black. Ears are small and not very developed, while the tail is long and completely covered with hair. It is a nocturnal creature and spends most of its waking hours among the branches of trees looking for food. It will make long detours rather than come down to the ground and expose itself to danger. The hazel dormouse hibernates from October to April–May. The hazel dormouse is protected by and in UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Class: Mammalia
Order:Rodentia
Family:Gliridae
Genus:Muscardinus
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