Edible or Fatty dormouse
Myolux Glis / Glis Glis
The Loir is the largest of the European Dormice with fur that is grey or grey and brown with white fur underneath, grey bushy tail and eyes that are overall dark in colour. Overall length is 25cm to 34cm with body and tail being approximately equal. Large ears.
Although not considered common they are generally widespread in most of France except the Atlantic coastal regions and Brittany. They occupy a wide range of habitats, forests, copses, hedgerows, parks, orchards and buildings.
They are excellent climbers and have a possible territorial range of about 4 square kilometres although in practice they remain within about 200 metres of their nest site.
Mainly nocturnal with a diet consisting of mostly seeds, fruits, nuts and grains although they will also eat insects and fungi and there is some suggestion that bird eggs may be occasionally taken.
Their nest is usually oval, about 15cm in diameter and constructed from coarse vegetation with an entrance in the side, its lining is made from softer material, fur, feathers, moss and grass. It’s often made in a hollow tree, cavities in rock faces, stone walls, old squirrels nests or even lodged in the branches of trees. The same nest can be occupied by several individuals and it’s possible to find 50 or more in the same building. Reproduction is from June until August when, after a gestation period of about a month, they give birth to between 2 and 9 young.
They have true hibernation which, depending on region and temperature, is from October until April. They will loose half their body weight during this time which requires the build up of plenty of body fat in preparation; it is also when they are most vulnerable to predation with anything up to 80% being taken over winter. During hibernation body temperature can drop to 3.7° C and it takes them 30 minutes or more to wake up. Although maximum life span is 7 years this is rarely reached, 2 or 3 years being more usual due to the high predation rate.
They can be the cause of great concern with many householders due to the stories about them eating through the electrical and other cables although it's unclear if that is the case when cabling is properly installed. They can also be very noisy both vocally and when chasing each other around as well as playing with walnuts when they are available.
English language users in France should not confuse either the Loir or the Lérot with the Hazel dormouse Muscardinus Avellanarius Muscardin which is the only Gliridae (or Dormouse) that has full protection status in France.