Overview

Distribution

Woodland dormice occur throughout Ethiopian region. They are widely distributed throughout Africa, from the southern edge of the Sahara Desert to Cape Province, South Africa.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

  • Skinner, J., C. Chimimba. 2005. The mammals of the southern African subregion, 3rd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Webb, P., J. Skinner. 1994. The Dormice (Myoxidae) of southern Africa. Hystrix, The Itialian Journal of Mammology, 6: "287-293".
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Range Description

This species is widely distributed in much of East Africa and Southern Africa. It ranges from Ethiopia, through much of East Africa (and marginally in western Central Africa) to South Africa (reaching as far west as the Western Cape) and Lesotho.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Woodland dormice are one of the larger African dormice species, ranging from 70 to 165 mm in head and body length and from 50 to 135 mm in tail length. They are squirrel-like in appearance, with dorsal pelage that ranges from light to dark gray and ventral pelage that is buffy white. They have short, soft wooly hair and a long bushy tail. A ring of darker fur often encircles their black eyes, and their ears range in length (a commonly used metric for species identification in mice) from 10 to 20 mm. They have short curved claws and their hind feet range in length from 15 to 20 mm. Woodland dormice range in mass from 23 to 34 g and are often confused with savannah dormice, which are detectably smaller. Their braincase is moderately cuboidal and domed, with slightly enlarged auditory bullae.

Range mass: 23 to 34 g.

Range length: 70 to 165 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

  • Grizmek, B. 2004. Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group In..
  • Haberl, W. 1999. "The Dormouse Hollow: Graphiurus" (On-line). The Dormouse Hollow. Accessed July 30, 2010 at http://www.gliratium.org/dormouse.
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Type Information

Type for Graphiurus murinus
Catalog Number: USNM 181787
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): E. Heller
Year Collected: 1911
Locality: Mount Gargues (Uaragess), summit, Mathews Range, Rift Valley, Kenya, Africa
Elevation (m): 2134
  • Type: Heller, E. 1912 Jul 05. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 59 (16): 2.
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Type for Graphiurus murinus
Catalog Number: USNM 181788
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Female; Adult
Preparation: Skin
Collector(s): E. Heller
Year Collected: 1911
Locality: Taita Mountains, summit Mount Umengo, Coast Province, Kenya, Africa
Elevation (m): 1524
  • Type: Heller, E. 1912 Jul 05. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 59 (16): 3.
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Ecology

Habitat

Woodland dormice are generalists and can be found in a broad range of habitats. Although they commonly nest in Acacia trees, their nests can also be found in tree hollows, rock crevices, on tree branches, in shrubs and even in abandoned bird nests and bee hives.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

  • Fitzherbert, E., T. Gardner, T. Caro, P. Jenkins. 2006. Habitat preferences of small mammals in the Katavi ecosystem of western Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology, 45: "249-257".
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is found in woodland, savanna, grassland and rocky areas (Skinner and Chimimba 2005). In parts of its range it is foun in either Afromontane forest or riverine forest dominated by Combretum. The can persist in secondary habitats, and are sometimes found in various types of buildings.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Trophic Strategy

Woodland dormice are omnivores, with dietary composition changing in relation to season. During spring, they eat primarily buds and insects, but occasionally eat small rodents and the eggs and young of small birds. In summer and fall, they eat fruit, seeds, and nuts to increase fat reserves for hibernation, and when food abundance is low, they may also eat bark and twigs.

Animal Foods: birds; reptiles; eggs; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore ); herbivore (Frugivore , Granivore ); omnivore

  • Nowakowski, W., M. Remisiewicz, J. Kosowska. 2006. Food preferences of Glis glis (L.), Dryomys nitedula (Pallas), and Graphiurus murinus (Smuts) kept in captivity. Polish Journal of Ecology, 54/3: "369-378".
  • Wirminghaus, J., M. Perrin. 1992. Diets of small mammals in a southern African temperate forest. Israel Journal of Zoology, 38: "353-361".
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Associations

Woodland dormice may play a role in the population dynamics of arthropods, which constitutes a significant proportion of their diet. Because they forage on various types of fruits and nuts, they may also be important seed dispersers. Finally, they are an important prey species for owls.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Woodland dormice are preyed upon mostly by owls, and their remains have been found in the pellets of Mackinder's eagle owl (Bubo capensis mackinderi) in East Africa. Because they are both arboreal and nocturnal, woodland dormice have few predators.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

  • Rodel, H., W. Scholze, D. Kock. 2002. Diet of Mackinder's eagle owl Bubo capensis mackinderi in the alpine zone of Mount Kenya. African Journal of Ecology, 40: "283-288".
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Woodland dormice make a variety of vocalizations including mating calls, territorial calls, alarm squeaks, and twittering sounds, for which the meaning is unknown. In addition, woodland dormice are likely to use visual, haptic (e.g., sense of touch), and olfactory cues to communicate with one another. Scent marking is likely used to establish territories and find mates, whereas vocalizations are probably used to find and defend mates, and defend territories.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Woodland dormice live for approximately 5.5 years in the wild and may live 5 to 6 years in captivity.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
5.5 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
5.9 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 6.9 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Limited information is available on the mating system of woodland dormice. At the onset of breeding season, however, males are very territorial and aggressive towards one another, suggesting polygyny. Once they emerge from their hibernacula, many species of dormice call out to alert potential mates of their presence. Once mated, males are likely to leave prior mates to search for additional estrous females.

Mating System: polygynous

Although most breeding occurs during the summer (October through February), woodland dormice commonly breed throughout the year (i.e., seasonal polyestry). Females have 1 to 2 litters per year. Gestation is thought to last for approximately 24 days, resulting in 3 to 4 altricial pups per litter; however, as many as 6 pups per litter may be possible. Pups weigh approximately 3.5 g at birth, and they are not reproductively mature until the summer after their first hibernation.

Breeding interval: Woodland dormice can breed twice during the summer

Breeding season: Breeding typically occurs from October to February.

Range number of offspring: 3 to 4.

Average gestation period: 24 days.

Range time to independence: 4 to 6 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous

Little information is available on the parental investments of woodland dormice. However, newborns are altricial and independence from the mother most likely occurs between 4 and 6 weeks of age. Mothers provide protection, grooming, and nourishment (e.g., nursing) until pups reach independence. Pups are cared for in nests lined with moss, which are often found in tree hollows, rock crevices, on tree branches, in shrubs and even in abandoned bird nests and bee hives. Detailed information on paternal investment has not been reported.

Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Grizmek, B. 2004. Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group In..
  • Haberl, W. 1999. "The Dormouse Hollow: Graphiurus" (On-line). The Dormouse Hollow. Accessed July 30, 2010 at http://www.gliratium.org/dormouse.
  • Webb, P., J. Skinner. 1994. The Dormice (Myoxidae) of southern Africa. Hystrix, The Itialian Journal of Mammology, 6: "287-293".
  • Wirminghaus, C., M. Perrin. 1993. Seasonal changes in density, demography, and body composition of small mammals in a southern temperate forest. Journal of Zoology, 229: "303-318".
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Graphiurus murinus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Woodland dormice exhibit stable population trends and currently, there are no major threats to this species. The IUCN lists woodland dormice as a species of "least concern".

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Baxter, R.

Reviewer/s
Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Cox, N. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, it occurs in a number of protected areas, has a tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

History
  • 2004
    Least Concern
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/least concern
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
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Population

Population
Densities have been estimated at about 10 animals per hectare, especially in riverine forest (where they can be the dominant small mammal) (R. Baxter pers. comm.).

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats to this species as a whole.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It is presumably present within some protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Woodland dormice are sometimes thought of as nuisances, as they occasionally make their nests in old furniture, roofs, electrical switch boxes, water pumps, and transformers. They can cause agricultural damage by raiding poultry farms and foraging on crops.

Woodland dormice are potential vectors for bubonic plague and monkeypox. A 2007 study in northern Tanzania found woodland dormice that were positive for Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); crop pest; household pest

  • Holden, M., R. Levine. 2009. Systematic revision of Sub-Saharan African dormice (Rodentia:Gliridae: Graphiurus) Part ll: Description of a new speices of Graphiurus from the Central Congo Basin, including morphological and ecological niche comparisons with G. crassicaudatus and G. lorraineus. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 331: "314-355".
  • Makundi, R. 2008. Potential mammalian reservoirs in a bubonic plague outbreak focus in Mbulu District, northern Tanzania, in 2007. Mammalia: journal de morphologie, biologie, systematique des mammiferes, 72/3: "253".
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African dormice have no documented economic effect on humans. However, due to their high fat content, they are a preferred source of protein in some cultures. Human consumption of dormice is a well documented global phenomenon.

Positive Impacts: food

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Wikipedia

Woodland dormouse

The woodland dormouse (Graphiurus murinus) is a species of rodent in the Gliridae family. It is endemic to South Africa. It is also known as African dwarf dormouse, African pygmy dormouse, or colloquially as micro squirrel.[1] It is found in limited numbers in the pet trade and has complicated care requirements compared to other pet rodents.[2]

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical, moist montane forests and rivers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ A complete guide to the African Pygmy Dormouse http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/pygmydormouse/index.htm&date=2009-10-26+01:08:17
  2. ^ African Pygmy Dormouse Care at Crittery http://www.crittery.co.uk/index.php/species-index/dormice/african-pygmy-dormice


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