The locomotory activity rhythms of Asian garden dormice, Eliomys melanurus from Saudi Arabia were investigated under controlled laboratory conditions. Animals were maintained under different lighting conditions for a period of two weeks each. Dormice exhibited predominantly nocturnal activity during the light/dark (LD) (mean % nocturnal activity: 95.5 ± 0.9%) and dark/light (DL) (mean % nocturnal activity: 96.8 ± 0.7%) light cycles. All animals expressed free-running rhythms of locomotor activity when subjected to constant darkness (mean τ: 24h06 ± 0h09). Upon inversion of the LD cycle to DL, activity re-entrained to the new light cycle within 3 days. When the dark component of the day was lengthened to 8L:16D the active time increased significantly from 11h43 ± 0h05 to 13h43 ± 0h22. In contrast, when the dark component was shortened from 12L:12D to16L: 8D, the active time decreased significantly to 7h58 ± 0h04. No difference was apparent in the locomotor activity at 20 and 30 °C however, dormice became very inactive at 10 °C.
Overall, locomotor activity patterns of the Asian garden dormouse largely resemble those of other species of dormice. However, Asian garden dormice spent long periods of time inactive both during light and darkness, when exposed to an ambient temperature of 10 °C, which may be related to the dramatic and sudden change in temperature. This period of inactivity may reflect a bout of torpor or the entering into a state of hibernation.