ocularis (Spectacled dormouse)
black-and-white dormouse, Cape dormouse, namtap [English]; gemsbokmuis
Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia >
Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates) >
Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost
fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class:
Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia
(terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota >
Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia
> Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals)
> Placentalia (placental mammals) >
Euarchontaglires > Glires > Rodentia (rodents) >
Sciurognathi > Myoxidae (dormice)
Inhabits sandstone rocky habitats in drier
regions of the Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. Eats
mainly invertebrates but also seeds and other plant material.
Nocturnal, hiding away in the day mainly in crevices between rocks.
Often mistaken for a small squirrel the
Spectacled dormouse is grey to silver-grey in colour with soft fur
and a bushy tail. Its face has a short muzzle, large eyes and small
rounded ears. As its name suggests the Spectacled dormouse has
distinctive dark rings that surround the eye (the ‘spectacles’). A
dark line runs from the sides of the muzzle to the shoulders. The
lips, cheeks, underparts and the tops of the feet and hands are
white. The tail is fringed and tipped with white hair. The skull of
the dormouse is dorso-ventrally flattened, which is an adaptation
for living in narrow rock crevices. They are excellent and agile
climbers. The hands and feet have well-developed plantar tubercules
and sharp claws both assist with providing grip while climbing sheer
Total length 25 cm; weight 80 g.
I C P M =
Distribution and habitat
Endemic to southern Africa. Occurs widely
although with a patchy distribution throughout the Northern Cape,
the Eastern Cape and Western Cape (excluding the south-western Cape)
and the North-West Province. Inhabits sandstone rocky habitats of
drier areas in the region.
Spectacled dormice are nocturnal and
territorial. They live in crevices between rocks on and near
koppies, and they are also found in trees growing near rocky
outcrops. Family groups are thought to consist of a pair of adults
and the young of the year. Northern hemisphere dormice species all
hibernate during winter, but provided sufficient food is available
the Spectacled dormouse remains active throughout the year. If food
supply is limited or the temperature drops suddenly the animals do
become sluggish and torpid for a period of 3 – 4 days. A combination
of both these environmental factors can cause hibernation of a month
Primarily insects but also includes other
invertebrates and plant material such as seeds. They are also
thought to hunt and eat geckos as well.
The gestation period is 21-32 days. A litter of
4-6 young are born in spring to summer. The pups are born naked and
blind. They become independent after about 4-6 weeks. Litters are
produced at 6-8 week intervals.
4 –6 years.
The spectacled dormouse is widespread but
uncommon and although rare it is not considered threatened and their
current conservation status is regarded as low risk.