Torpor in Dormice
Author: Christine, of Crittery Exotics
Torpor is a state where an animal reduces activity, body temperature and metabolic rate. For captive pets, this can be a very dangerous situation and needs to prevented.
African Pygmy Dormice must be kept at a minimum temperature but are very sensitive to changes in temperature. Equipment failure can occur and torpor can also happen in any season. Be alert for suddent drops in temperature.
Torpor can be identified by the extreme lethagy, closed eyes, low body temperature and sluggish movements. It is vital to heat up the animal. This should not be done too abruptly, heating up in hands or a snuggle sack or bonding pouch is a good start. You can then transfer to a heat pad, with easy access to water and high value easy digestable food - for dormice maple syrup is a good quick boost of energy. Other animals may do well with malt paste or scrambled egg.
A low-cost alternative if you don't have a heat pad is to take a sock, fill with rice and knot at the top. This can be heated safely in a microwave for a minute or until a good temperature and can be placed by the animal to give additional warmth.
Older or ill animals are more susceptible to going into a state of torpor and torpor also can make an animal more vulnerable to other illnesses in the days afterwards. It is important to identify the cause and take steps to prevent it reoccurring. You may need to keep your animal in a temporary tank or carrier for a few days whilst the issue in their main habitat is fixed.