Sexing African Pygmy Dormice
Dormice reach sexual maturity around 5 months and are one of the hardest rodents to sex. The best method in sexing pygmy dormice is to place pups in a see through jar or container that they cannot escape from.
- The space between the genital and anal openings is greater in the male than the female.
- In the centre of the genital vents the female has a dot and the male has a more button-shape - similar to Guinea Pigs.
- Once they are sexually mature the Males have large testicular bulges under their tails making this much easier to identify.
- Female dormice have prominant nipples if pregnant or lactating, blowing on belly fur may help reveal this for young dormice.
Due to the difficulty in sexing, and the long time to mature you may find a lot of breeders sell their young as unsexed.
Introducing new Dormice
To prevent inbreeding, it is important to introduce new blood in the colony. The best option would be to introduce young dormice, but since you cannot tell gender you may want to introduce adults to avoid issues later on. This is done on neutral territory.
Things to help the introduction include:
- Try rubbing a menthol vapour on the dormice and the newly cleaned enclosure - paying particular attention to the genital region to help disguise scent and reduce the fighting instinct.
- Spray a strong scent such as lavender, vanilla or diluted washing up liquid with a lemon scent around the enclosure.
- Change all bedding and clean all nests and alter the layout for them.
- Make sure you have plentiful food supplies with multiple feeding stations and numerous nests.
- A deep layer of hay can be a good way of diffusing fighting.
- Distracting food treats things like live crickets or millet sprays.
Your new Dormice may nest alone for a few nights, but this is normal. In my personal experience I have found that it can be difficult to integrate family groups - I have found that the young and adolescents may be accepted but not the adults. Some dormice personalities may not match, and I've had girls before that will not accept any other females other than her own daughters.
Always make sure you have a spare, secure tank or vivarium so you are prepared for dormouse territory disputes. Keep a close eye on your colony so you should be aware if you need to separate your animals. The danger signs are quite obvious, especially with males where there is excessive chasing, fighting and one dormouse may be pinned with the other holding it down.