European hamster

European hamster

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European hamster

The European hamster (Cricetus cricetus), also known as the Eurasian hamster, black-bellied hamster or common hamster. It is native to a large range in Eurasia, extending from Belgium to the Altai mountains and Yenisey River in Russia.

Where abundant the animal is widely considered a farmland pest, and it has also been trapped for its fur. Across its global range, it is considered of least concern, but in many individual Western European countries it is considered critically endangered. Cricetus is also a monotypic genus.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Cricetidae
  • Subfamily: Cricetinae
  • Genus: Cricetus
  • Species: C. cricetus
  • Binomial name: Cricetus cricetus

The European Hamster is a protected hibernating rodent species. looks a bit like the Golden Hamster that can be sometimes found in pet shops. It, however, cannot be tamed, being a solitary animal, afraid of humans. It spends 95% of its time in its underground burrow, only leaving it at dawn and nightfall.

European hamster Fact

The common hamster is a nocturnal or crepuscular species. It lives in a complex burrow system. It eats seeds, legumes, root vegetables, grasses and insects.

Diet

The European Hamster is omnivorous; it eats everything! Cultivated vegetables (wheat, rye, oats, cabbage, tobacco, beets, maize, etc.) are just as important in its diet as wild plants (coltsfoot, thistles, field blindweed, poppies, ribwort, quackgrass, etc.) and small animals (up to 15%).

European Hamsters are light brown in colour with a black belly, white sides and paws, although Albino and Black mutations exist. They have very large cheek pouches which can hold up to 20-30 grams of food.

European hamster Size

The European Hamster is sometimes referred to as the Common Hamster or Black Bellied Hamster and was first documented in 1679 and named in 1758. European Hamsters are the largest of the hamster species with males being 27-32 cm in length and females being 22-25 cm in length ie a similar size to a guinea pig.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of the European Hamster is 8 years and although kept in laboratories is not often kept as a pet.

Biology

The very special biology of the European hamster has sparked interest in many scientists, since the 17th century. Two of the earliest monographs on the European hamsters date back to 1765 (Buffon) and 1774 (Sulzer).

A European hamster female has from one to four litters per year. The mean litter size is approximately 6 pups. It is a prey species with a short life span, and needs to produce at least two litters per year to maintain population levels.

The main predators are birds of prey and foxes and other carnivores sharing the same habitat. It is assumed that the life expectancy of a wild adult European hamster can reach 3-4 years but in reality it is more like 1-2. The animals are predominantly herbivore eating cereals, grasses and vegetables with a seasonally changing diet. However, also insects, invertebrates and even small vertebrates are eaten.

Also more: Mesocricetus hamster

European hamster images

European hamster

European hamster

European hamster

European hamster

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