Conservation status

A number of factors conspire to make more than half of all dormouse species at risk under IUCN criteria. The exclusively forest-dwelling species have poor mobility and this makes them highly vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation. Furthermore, a nocturnal, arboreal existence makes both survey and research work difficult. The little-understood

An African dormouse (Graphiurus sp.) living in West Africa. (Photo by Erwin and Peggy Bauer. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Roach's mouse-tailed dormouse was only discovered in Europe in the mid-twentieth century. Despite years of concentrated research, scientists in the United Kingdom only discovered at the end of the twentieth century that hedges were an important habitat for the hazel dormouse.

Dormice may be adversely affected by climate change, which causes habitat alteration and temperature fluctuations. Arousal from hibernation during mild winters forces an animal to expend considerably greater amounts of energy than if it maintained consistently low internal temperatures.

Concerted efforts to understand the complex ecology and difficulties of protecting this vulnerable family have led to a series of international dormouse conferences, where scientists have been able to share information on the appealing but enigmatic Myoxidae.

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