|Hazel Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)
Watercolor and colored pencil
Dormice are known for their habits of dormancy, hibernating for much of the winter and sleeping for long periods during other times of cold, wet weather. They spend most of their waking, nocturnal lives in the treetops, only visiting the forest floor to sleep, nest in the spring and give birth in the summer. Dormice are becoming rare and in danger of extinction in all but the most southern counties of England and Wales, mainly due to the loss of their forested habitat. The Hazel Dormouse is the only species of its genus and the only small mammal in Britain with a completely furry tail. They eat insects, fruit and nuts, notably hazelnuts, which they open by biting a circle in the shell, leaving teeth marks along the outside and a smooth edge on the inside.
The Dormouse was also made famous for his sleepy nature in Lewis Carrol’s “Alice in Wonderland”. Between falling asleep in the butter he stated "You might just as well say, that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”!
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