the clay rats are among us! Where can you see them in Valais? (1/3)

Distinguishing them is not complicated. The silver-colored gray dormus, measuring up to 20 cm, is the team’s strongest. In the featherweight category, the golden-red dormus exceeds almost 9 cm.

Between these two accomplices you can find the clay root that can be recognized on his mask by Zorro, whose size varies between 10 and 17 cm.

It should be noted that the very rare lerotin, only observed in Engadin, in Val Müstair and in the national park, has a medium size of 8 to 13 cm. (The sizes mentioned correspond to the head and body, excluding the tail.)

The sleeping mouse, fast as lightning. © Frederic Desmette

The federal law on the protection of nature and the landscape has placed dormics and dormics under the protection of the cantons. In Valais, they do not benefit from this protection so far, but they can not be hunted.

Muscardins and lerotins, on the other hand, are protected throughout Switzerland.

Slept like a tree trunk

The lifestyle and reproduction of glirides clearly distinguish them from rats and mice. These nocturnal rodents with brittle faces have in common a particularly prolonged dormancy period, a single litter and caudal autotomy.

Or, for this last special trait, the ability to give up their tail to the claws of the predator to save their skin! But unlike lizards, this pendant will not regenerate.

If dormouse and dormouse are anthropophilic, in other words that they frequent human places, the more forest and even mountainous dormouse never venture there. So if you perceive charivari under your roof at the end of winter, it is more likely that it is a dormus or maybe even a garden sleeve work.

Clay, masked pixie

Rely more on your hearing than your sight if you want to meet this bandit’s dark eyes with Zorro’s mask.

A black mask, big ears and a tail that ends in a broom of hair, hey idiot! . © Frederic Desmette

Rolled up in its long bushy tail, the dormice has taken up its winter quarters in a nest close to the ground. Cracks, rocks, cavities in trees, nesting boxes for birds or alpine huts do the trick. And for those who have successfully passed the delicate phase of the long cold season, the spring in April sounds the alarm clock.

Winter is his worst enemy
Although “a kind of natural thermostat” prevents the body temperature of the dormant mouse from falling below freezing, almost half of the young will not survive the cold season. (Source The Salamander)

These large sleepers, who have lost half their weight during their hibernation, immediately get busy welcoming the only litter of the year. A spherical and cozy nest, lined with moss, twigs, leaves, grasses and feathers, is then built in a hole in the tree or in an interweaving of boulders.

Even in a sparrow nest, whose eggs, chicks and even parents, if necessary, will have been crushed by these scoundrels beforehand. He also does not despise barns and farms.

Already in a few weeks, the little newborn pigeons will set off to discover their environment. © PM Guinchard

This article can be read for free in our magazine “Terroirs” by clicking here

After three weeks of pregnancy, 4 to 6 babies, naked and blind, will take it easy there. And after only a month of breastfeeding, they will follow their mother to explore their environment.

Sieur lérot, with a fickle temperament, lacks subscribers throughout this period.

An attractive mascot

This charismatic rodent, relatively unknown to the general public, was chosen by Pro Natura 2022 Ambassador for Wild Forests and Landscapes Close to Nature. In Switzerland, the population appears to be declining.

The sleeping mouse is still considered “not endangered”, although there are now significant gaps in its range, Pro Natura notes. “While present in the Alps and west of the Jura, it has not been observed for about twenty years on the Swiss plateau,” emphasizes Leo Richard, communications officer at Pro Natura.

“We still do not know what the exact causes are. But it is certain that the scarcity of its habitats has something to do with it ”.

Wellness in the woods!

Precisely his favorite environment, let’s talk about it. This noisy mammal delights in the heart of oak, beech and other pine forests in surroundings with rocks, shrubs, dead wood and cavities in trees. A natural forest garden in Eden in decline.

If the garden mouse a few decades ago still found alternative habitats in traditional and diversified landscapes, planted with orchards and hedges, the intensification of agriculture has since gone through there. And the habitat of the garden mouse outside the forests has been drastically reduced.

Structurally rich forests with rocky parts are suitable for dormuses. © Severin Nowacki

By naming the garden mouse as the mascot of the year, the environmental protection organization calls for better protection of the wild nature, especially in the forest. “Havesen has reached its limit for adaptability. The gradual disappearance of natural environments and the degree of demands on the dormus has the effect that it limits it further in the mountains.

Words confirmed by Dr. Michel Blant, specialist in small mammals from Neuchâtel (Faune Concepts working community on mammals), who observed the dormice in the Binntal at an altitude of about 1800 meters.

Hard to observe

You must be lucky to see this nocturnal cave dweller measuring a little more than 11 to 15 cm long and weighing 36 to 113 g depending on the season. “We hear him before we see him because he is more of a natural speaker!” says Leo Richard.

Common dormouse calls are usually long and loud. And it warns its congenital in case of danger by making a sound similar to that emitted by breasts.

Participatory science
Pro Natura invites you to follow in the footsteps of the glider rides by building footprint tunnels with family, friends or solo. Once sent, your original printouts will be identified. And a final map will be published in late 2023 with the results over the two-year harvest.Learn more: here

Omnivorous, it rejoices in everything that passes under its paw: dried but also fleshy fruits, invertebrates, small reptiles, frogs, lizards, insects.

Less woody than the sleeping mouse, it often eats in the soil’s waste. But on the other side of the coin, the opportunist himself is much appreciated by the rope owl, the owl, the weasel …

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