Eliomys munbyanusMaghreb garden dormouse

Geographic Range

Eliomys munbyanus has been found throughout Africa, including populations in Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and the Western Sahara. Many populations have been found in these areas north of the Atlas Mountains. (Holden, 2013; López-García, et al., 2012)


Eliomys munbyanus individuals live in a variety of terrestrial habitats. They are a mostly arboreal species that has been found in semi-desert/desert, pine forest, mountain cedar forest, rocky areas, and humid forest habitats. They also live in roofs of houses, alcoves, and attics. These dormice build nests in places such as tree holes, rock crevices, caves, and various shrubs, including cacti. They also use various materials for their nest, including grasses, palm, goat hair and sheep wool, flowers, and stems. The primary goal when building their nest appears to be achieving all-around body contact. (Holden, 2013)

  • Range elevation
    3,800 (high) m
  • Average depth
    Sea Level m

Physical Description

Eliomys munbyanus, the Maghreb garden dormouse, is a medium-sized species of dormouse, averaging a head and body length of 117 millimeters, hind feet 25 mm., and ears 24 mm. Their average mass is between 15 and 180 grams. This dormouse is found to have a longer, more angular and broad skull, with a short snout. They have a relatively short upper row of teeth, and can also lack premolars in some cases. The Maghreb dormouse also is found to have large eyes with a dark mask surrounding them. They have white-colored cheeks that sometimes have a pale stripe running from the cheek to the shoulders, with medium-large brown and oval-shaped ears. Their tails are long, averaging 108 mm., but length also varies geographically. The longest tails have been found in the North Moroccan populations.

Eliomys munbyanus has long and soft fur that may have a wool-like quality to it. Hind hairs are quite long, coming in at around 10-11 mm., with guard hairs at 16 mm. Tail hairs start at around 3-4 mm. at the base and can get as long as 19 mm. at the tip. Generally, their coloration follows a yellowish/red-brown upper color with some grey variation to it. Underneath, this dormouse is generally white tinged with grey, with a clear distinction between upper and lower body colors. The female mouse has eight nipples. Tail color and pattern vary geographically: Southwest Morocco and West Saharan populations have been found to have white and grey ventral colors, with a white tip and black in the middle portion. Other Moroccan populations as well as Algerian populations have more of a grey/white or fully white tail. Other populations still have been found to have a black tail with white tip, and reddish to yellow-brown coloring at the base.

It is interesting to note that the dormouse is one of the only rodents that lacks a cecum. ("Dormice", 2017; Holden, 2013)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    15 to 180 g
    0.53 to 6.34 oz
  • Average length
    117 mm
    4.61 in


Not much is known about Eliomys munbyanus in regards to its mating system. Similar to other dormouse species, E. munbyanus is a polygynous species. The breeding season is usually in spring and sometimes autumn. Females may use loud vocalizations to indicate reproductive-readiness to the male. ("Dormice", 2017; Holden, 2013)

Eliomys munbyanus has a gestation period of around 22-24 days. They usually produce 4-6 offspring, but have been found to only have 2-3 in captivity. The time to weaning is 7 weeks in the nest, and although these dormice are mostly independent, they tend to live in small family groups the duration of their life. They are sexually mature after their first hibernation. (Holden, 2013)

  • Breeding interval
    The Maghreb Dormouse breeds 1 to 2 times per year.
  • Breeding season
    Spring, Autumn
  • Range number of offspring
    2 to 6
  • Range gestation period
    22 to 24 days
  • Average weaning age
    7 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 years

Not much information is found on parental investment, especially in terms of male interaction with their young. Young are born hairless, blind and helpless, so this suggests some parental care is involved, likely maternal care like other dormouse species. Maghreb garden dormice tend to live in small family groups for the duration of their lives. (Holden, 2013)


The average lifespan of Eliomys munbyanus in the wild is about 5 years. This is also the longest known lifespan in the wild. Eliomys spp. in general has a captive lifespan of about 5.5 years. (Bertolino and Currado, 2001; Holden, 2013)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    5 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    5.5 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    5 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    5.5 years


Although Eliomys munbyanus is mainly a solitary organism, it will usually live in a small family group for the duration of its life. It may hibernate up to six months long but has been found to not hibernate at all when conditions permit. It is also possible for the species to go into torpor in the winter instead. (Holden, 2013)

Home Range

There is not much information on the home range of E. munbyanus. It is possible that its range depends on food availability, predation and competition in the area. (Holden, 2013)

Communication and Perception

Eliomys munbyanus has excellent hearing. They use vocalizations to communicate with each other, similar to other dormouse species. It is suggested that females use squeaking vocalizations to help with mating. (Holden, 2013)

Food Habits

Eliomys munbyanus is an omnivorous organism that consumes fruits, seeds, eggs, and sometimes invertebrates such as insects. They are mostly nocturnal foragers. The Maghreb garden dormouse, unlike other rodents, lack a cecum in their gastrointestinal tract. (Holden, 2013)

  • Animal Foods
  • eggs
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Eliomys munbyanus displays adaptations against predation including being arboreal and nocturnal. These dormice also have coloring that helps them blend into their environments.

Confirmed predators of Eliomys munbyanus are golden jackals. (Holden, 2013)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Eliomys munbyanus may aid in the dispersal of seeds, which makes up a large part of their diet. E. munbyanus is a prey species for the jackal and is sometimes parasitized by lice. The Maghreb garden dormouse preys on poultry eggs and insects, which may also help to control the populations of these species. Since the dormouse creates intricate nests, it may provide habitat for other organisms once their nests are abandoned.

Eliomys munbyanus is allopatric with Eliomys melanurus. ("Dormice", 2017; Holden, 2013)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • creates habitat
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • hoplopleurid louse

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There is no information regarding whether or not the Maghreb garden dormouse has any positive influence on the economy.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Eliomys munbyanus has been found to be a pest in fruit plantations and vegetable gardens. They also consume poultry eggs and have been found to inhabit homes and other buildings. (Holden, 2013)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest
  • household pest

Conservation Status

Eliomys munbyanus is labeled as "least concern" on the IUCN Red List. It does not appear to be found on any other conservation lists. Populations are found to be stable overall. (Amori, et al., 2008)


Megan Buddenhagen (author), University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.


active during the night


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


having more than one female as a mate at one time

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


lives alone

stores or caches food

places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


2017. "Dormice" (On-line). BBC Nature. Accessed April 29, 2017 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Dormouse.

Amori, G., S. Aulagnier, R. Hutterer, B. Kryštufek, N. Yigit, G. Mitsain, L. Palomo. 2008. "Eliomys munbyanus" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed April 28, 2017 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/136469/0.

Bertolino, S., I. Currado. 2001. ECOLOGY OF THE GARDEN DORMOUSE (Eliomys quercinus) IN THE ALPINE HABITAT. Trakya University Journal of Scientific Research, 2/2: 75-78. Accessed May 09, 2017 at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266073067_ECOLOGY_OF_THE_GARDEN_DORMOUSE_Eliomys_quercinus_IN_THE_ALPINE_HABITAT.

Holden, M. 2013. Eliomys munbyanus: Maghreb Garden Dormouse. Pp. 107-111 in D Happold, ed. Mammals of Africa: An Introduction and Guide, Vol. 3: Rodents, Hares and Rabbits, 1 Edition. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

López-García, J., J. Agustí, H. Aouraghe. 2012. The small mammals from the Holocene site of Guenfouda (Jerada, Eastern Morocco): chronological and paleoecological implications. Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology, 25/1: 51-57. Accessed April 28, 2017 at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08912963.2012.688198.