To determine whether the pathogenic
Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia spielmanii is adapted exclusively to garden dormice, we compared the reservoir competence of various rodent species for this spirochete, including sympatric and peridomestic rodents. The different kinds of rodents varied in their attractiveness to nymphal ticks and their level of susceptibility to tick-borne B. spielmanii infection, but only the edible dormouse appeared to be refractory. Although hazel dormice and Norway rats became infectious to ticks somewhat later than did garden dormice, they remained infectious for a longer period of time. During the course of a tick season, garden and hazel dormice contributed theoretically more than twice as many B. spielmanii-infected ticks than the somewhat less susceptible Norway rats and wood or yellow-necked mice. Hazel dormice appeared to be extraordinarily competent as reservoir hosts for B. spielmanii. Because peridomestic rodents proved to be reservoir competent, urban foci of transmission of B. spielmanii may affect the health of townspeople.