European Hamster - Characteristics, Behavior and Reproduction

European hamster: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. Rodents are a very varied order of mammals, within which...

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Rodents are a very varied order of mammals, within which there are several species which, over time, and for different reasons, have had a common history with human beings. In this PlanetAnimal file, we are going to talk to you about the European hamster (Cricetus cricetus), its diet, its reproduction and many other aspects!

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  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Belarus
  • Bulgaria
  • France
  • Hungary
  • Kazakhstan
  • Moldova
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine

Characteristics of the European hamster

The main characteristics of the European Hamster are:

  • Fur: it is brown and can be reddish or grayish on the sides and back. Its belly is black and its muzzle, lips, throat, cheeks and feet are white in color.
  • Eyes: He has prominent dark colored eyes.
  • Truffle: As for the nostrils, they are wide and oblique.
  • Teeth: Another characteristic of the European hamster is that its teeth are just incisors and molars.
  • Moustaches: they are abundant, there are around 30 of them in white and chestnut colors.
  • Forelimbs: They are a little shorter than the hindlimbs. They have five pads on the first and six on the second.
  • Ears: They measure between 2.3 and 3.2 cm and are arranged dorso-medially.
  • Tail: it is not so long, it is 3-6 cm long. Also, the tail fur is shorter than the rest of the body.
  • Sexual dimorphism: it manifests itself in terms of weight and size, since males weigh an average of 450 g and 24.1 cm, while females weigh 360 g and 23.7 cm.

Habitat of the European Hamster

Originally, the habitat of the European hamster consisted of steppes and meadows of fertile land. However, it has spread to a large extent in certain developed areas such as crops, mainly cereals, fields, roadsides, bushes, gardens and orchards.In fact, it now lives more in human-made ecosystems than in natural environments.

This rodent prefers deep, dense or clay soils, in which it digs its vast burrows where it lives. On the other hand, it has also been found that it prefers to live in areas that are approximately 400 meters above sea level.

Habits of the European Hamster

This hamster is a very good digger and has solitary and nocturnal habits. However, it should be clarified that its habits are influenced by the environmental conditions which are determined by the different seasons. Thus, in the middle of summer, the European hamster will start to eat a lot more in order to build up fat reserves. In addition, it is also interesting to know that his fur darkens when he enters hibernation, which lasts approximately between mid-October and mid-March.

When the European hamster hibernates, it curls up while keeping its front limbs extended. It usually wakes up every 5 or 7 days to feed and then goes back to sleep.

In summer, this rodent lives between 30 to 60 cm underground, however, during hibernation, it descends about 2 meters into the burrow. As we mentioned, it is an excellent digger, so its dens have quite extensive tunnels with several exits and with chambers where it will keep its food reserves and others that it uses as latrines.

Finally, we can mention that this rodent, apart from the moment of reproduction, is very aggressive with individuals of its species.

European Hamster Food

The European hamster is a rodent capable of adapting very well thanks to its eating habits, a characteristic that has allowed it to live near cities.It is an animal that generally keeps food in its cheeks, to store food in the burrow, which will serve them to survive during the months of hibernation.

This hamster is primarily a herbivorous, seed-eating type, however, depending on food availability and the season, it may shift towards an omnivorous diet. Among the foods eaten by the European hamster are:

  • Seeds or cereals
  • Roots
  • Herbs
  • Fruit
  • Legumes
  • Insects
  • Larvae

Discover other herbivorous animals: definition, types and examples in the next article PlanèteAnimale that we present to you.

Reproduction of the European Hamster

This rodent has a very high reproduction rate, since the mating season usually begins between March and May and ends around August. During this period, a female can have up to three litters.

" When the female comes into heat, to indicate her disposition to the male, she runs in a figure eight. The male pursues her and cries louder and louder. During the mating season, this hamster is very fickle and may end up mating several times a day until the female becomes pregnant."

A pregnancy lasts 18 to 21 days, after which between 3 and 7 babies are born, blind and totally dependent on their mother who breastfeeds them for about 30 days. A female can become pregnant again while her first litter is not yet weaned.

Conservation status of the European hamster

Because it can cause very serious damage to agricultural fields, the European hamster was for a time considered a pest in certain regions. However, its status has changed drastically and it is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The IUCN itself reports that the European Hamster is extinct or extinct in some countries like:

  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Switzerland: the breed is declared extinct

The situation of this rodent is complex and the causes of its dramatic decline need to be clarified. However, it is estimated that the transformation of the habitat for the development of monocultures, climate change, hunting, the use of pesticides and the trade in the skin of this animal, have participated in the destruction of the populations.

Among the conservation measures, we find the promotion of crop diversification by farmers, the reduction of the use of pesticides, as well as the reintroduction in certain areas.

European Hamster Pictures

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