Print Posted By Lost in France on 5 Jan 2008 in Wildlife - Wildlife and nature in France

The Edible Dormouse or Loir

The Edible DormouseIn France the Edible Dormouse Glis glis is fairly common ranging across most of the country with the exception of the North West and Aquitaine.

In Roman times the Edible Dormouse was considered a delicacy. The Romans kept the dormice in large earthenware pots called 'dolia' and fattened them up with a diet rich in walnuts.

These days you're more likely (with the exception of parts of Slovenia) to find them in mature deciduous woodland or in your garden than served up at the table.

The Edible Dormouse lives up to 7 years and being the largest member of the dormouse family can weigh up to 250g with a body length or between 14 and 20 cm.

The Edible dormouse is nocturnal and gregarious in nature, often living in groups of up to 30. It spends most of its day asleep in a drey like nest (and occasionally in the roof space of houses) and has grey to brown fur with darker stripes on its legs and black rings around its eyes. Its tail is thick and bushy and the under parts of its body are pale white to yellow. It could easily be mistaken for a small squirrel with large ears.

In France the Edible Dormouse is
known as the Loir. The diet of the dormouse  mostly consists of fruit, acorns, nuts, small insects and the occasional egg or nestling. During the winter it hibernates, often coming down to ground level to hibernate in small burrows abandoned by other animals and sometimes in the roots of trees.

The Edible Dormouse breeds between August and September with the female giving birth to a single litter of between 1 to 12 young which are born blind, furless and helpless. The young dormice stay in the nest for around 4 weeks by which time they are completely independent.

The Edible Dormouse has a special defence mechanism where it can 'drop' it's tail to enable it to escape from predators, the skin comes easily off it's tail with little or no bleeding leaving behind the bone and cartilage which the dormouse later chews off by itself.

The French word for the Edible Dormouse is the Loir.
Latin name: Glis Glis.
 

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