This dormouse was prepared by a previous curator at the Booth Museum. Instead of using taxidermy, the specimen was freeze-dried in the hibernating pose it was found in.
What can we see?
The dormouse gets its name from its hibernating habits: ‘dor’ comes from the French dormir, meaning ‘to sleep’.
They spend most of their lives hibernating – from November to April or May, depending on the weather.
The hazel dormouse is the only small mammal in the UK with a furry tail. When hibernating, this furry tail is wrapped around its body to keep it extra warm.
The tail is also prehensile, which means that it can grasp things. When it is active, the nocturnal dormouse will use its tail to grip onto twigs as it travels amongst trees.
The dormouse spends much of its active time in trees, using its feet as well as its tail.
This species is endangered due to the cutting down of trees which fragments its habitat. Some people have created special tree-top bridges that help the hazel dormouse pass from tree to tree when the branches are too far apart to jump.
The hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) makes its nest from grass, strips of fresh honeysuckle and hazel leaves. It also eats hazelnuts from the hazel tree (Corylus avellana), as well as berries, buds and insects.
In autumn, dormice need to build up their fat reserves for their long hibernation.
Author: Kerrie Curzon, Collections Assistant