Body temperature patterns and use of torpor in an alpine glirid species, woolly dormouse
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Woolly dormice, Dryomys laniger Felten and Storch (Senckenbergiana Biol 49(6):429-435, 1968), are a small (20-30 g), omnivorous (mainly insectivorous), nocturnal glirid species endemic to Turkey. Although woolly dormice have been assumed to hibernate during winter, no information exists on body temperature patterns and use of torpor in the species. In the present study, we aimed to determine body temperature patterns and use of torpor in woolly dormice under controlled laboratory conditions. Accordingly, body temperature (Tb) of woolly dormice was recorded using surgically implanted Thermochron iButtons, small and inexpensive temperature-sensitive data loggers. Woolly dormice exhibited robust, unimodal daily Tb rhythmicity during the euthermic stage before the beginning of hibernation. They displayed short torpor before they began hibernation, although the tendency to enter short torpor was different among individuals. Woolly dormice began hibernation within 1-3 days after exposure to cold and darkness, i.e., on October 22-24, and ended hibernation in the first half of April. Hibernation consisted of a sequence of multiday torpor bouts, interrupted by euthermic intervals. Thus, the patterns of hibernation in woolly dormice were similar to those observed in classical hibernating mammals.