This small subfamily includes 16 species belonging to 6 (7) genera:
- Genus Medium Hamsters (Msoecricetus)
- Syrian Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus)
- Brandt Hamster (Mesocricetus brandti)
- Hamster Radde (Mesocricetus raddei)
- Newton's Hamster (Mesocricetus newtoni)
- Genus Borefoot Hamsters (Phodopus)
- Dzungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus)
- Campbell's Hamster (Phodopus campbelli)
- Roborovsky Hamster (Phodopus roborovskii)
- Genus Cricetus
- Common Hamster (Cricetus cricetus)
- Genus Gray Hamster (Cricetulus)
- Short-Tailed Hamster (Cricetulus alticola)
- Drumster Hamster (Cricetulus barabensis)
- Gray Hamster (Cricetulus migratorius)
- Sokolov's hamster (Cricetulus sokolovi)
- Genus Eversman hamsters (Allocricetulus)
- Mongolian hamster (Allocricetulus curtatus)
- Eversman's Hamster (Allocricetulus eversmanni)
- Genus Cansumys
- Canary Hamster (Cansumys canus)
- Genus Tscherskia
- Rat hamster (Tscherskia triton)
Hamsters are small-bodied rodents with short paws, small ears and short ponytails. Body length ranges from 5 to 34 cm, tail in length from 0.7 to 10 cm. Females can exceed males in size. The fur is thick, the back is colored from ashen or brownish-gray to dark brown-ocher color. The abdomen is found in black, white or gray. On the back there is a black stripe. Hamsters also differ from other types of rodents in well-developed cheek pouches.
Hamster Nutrition Features
Hamsters belong to omnivorous rodents, but plant foods predominate in their diet. In addition, hamsters feed on insects and their larvae, small vertebrates (mice, reptiles and amphibians). In the autumn, they switch to seeds and tubers, and also stores them in quantities from 0.5 to 11-16 kg. Sometimes pantries of hamsters with stocks of grains and potatoes reach 90 kg. Hamsters also bring grain, peas, rice, millet, buckwheat, lupine, corn, lentils, potatoes to the pantries, stacking separately different types of seeds. The hamster eats these reserves in the winter, temporarily waking up from hibernation, and in the spring until the appearance of fresh food.
The hamster carries food in its cheek pouches, where about 46 g of wheat is placed. It can carry food for about 1 km.
Hamsters are widely distributed in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, Syria, Iran, Siberia, Mongolia, northern China and Korea.
The largest populations live in the forest-steppe and steppe. In the south, it prefers moist areas, for example, river valleys. It is found in the mountains at altitudes up to 3600 m above sea level, to mountain meadows and forests. It also develops cultivated areas, such as rice fields, forest belts, parks, gardens, vegetable gardens, residential buildings. Preferred dense soils, rare on sandy soils.
Common Hamster (Cricetus cricetus)
The body length of adult males is 27-34 cm, the tail is 3-8 cm long, and the mass is about 700 g. The tail thins out towards the end and is covered with short stiff hairs. The ears are short, dark. The fur is thick and soft. The color is bright, contrasting. The back is reddish-brown, the tummy is black. Two large bright spots are visible on the sides, separated by black fur. There are also bright spots on the sides of the head and behind the ears. There are specimens of black or black with white spots on the legs and neck. In total, more than 10 subspecies of the common hamster are described. The color becomes lighter from north to south, body sizes increase from west to east and from north to south.
The species lives in the meadow and forest-steppes of Eurasia from Belgium to Altai and Northern Xinjiang.
Brandt Hamster or Transcaucasian Hamster (Mesocricetus brandti)
Body length 15-18 cm, tail length 2-3 cm. Weight up to 300 g. Ears are small. The back is earthy brown in color. The tummy is brownish-gray, with a black spot on the chest. The head on the sides is yellowish-red, under the ears there are long black spots, the chin is white. Paws are white. The fur is soft, thick on the tail.
The habitat of the species includes Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, and the eastern Ciscaucasia. It inhabits the steppes on the slopes of the mountains, mountain meadows and cultivated areas.
Hamster Radde or Pre-Caucasian Hamster (Mesocricetus raddei)
Body length up to 28 cm, tail length about 1.5 cm. The back is brownish. Midsection black or dark gray. There are bright spots on the cheeks and behind the ears.
Distributed in Georgia and Russia, in the North Caucasus, in the Stavropol Territory and in the Ciscaucasia, in the steppes and forest belts.
Newton's Hamster (Mesocricetus newtoni)
Body length 14-17 cm, tail length up to 2 cm, weight 80-150 g. The back is gray-brown, a black strip passes in the center of the back. The neck and chest are black-brown, the abdomen is yellowish-gray.
It occurs along the Danube, in Bulgaria and Romania.
Campbell's Hamster (Phodopus campbelli)
Body length 7-10 cm, tail short, up to 1.5 cm long, weight about 25 g. Head rounded, muzzle short. The fur is dark gray with a brown tint, on the back there is a dark strip, the tummy is gray.
The species is common in Mongolia, in the north of China in Russia and Kazakhstan.
Short-Tailed Hamster (Cricetulus alticola)
The body length is 8-10 cm, the mass is in the range from 22 to 48 g. The fur is gray-yellow-brown without spots.
It lives in the north of South Asia and in China, at altitudes of about 4000 m above sea level, in coniferous and birch forests, in the steppes.
Eversman's Hamster (Allocricetulus eversmanni)
Body length 13-16 cm, tail 2-3 cm long. Paws short. The ears are small. The tail is wide, flattened, densely pubescent. The fur is short, soft, velvety. The back is blackish-brown or fawn-red or ash-sand. The tummy is white with a sharp border on the sides. There is a brown spot on the throat and breast. Paws and tail are white below.
It lives in the Lower and Middle Trans-Volga, in the south of the Trans-Urals, in Kazakhstan.
Rat hamster (Tscherskia triton)
Body length from 14 to 25 cm, tail 7-10 cm long. Weight from 92 to 241 g. The back is light gray-brown, the tail is dark brown in color with a white tip, the legs are white.
The habitat includes northeast of China, south of Primorsky Krai, Korea.
Hamsters are terrestrial animals, some species can swim, gaining air in cheek pouches. Usually they live one at a time, in minks. Out of the breeding season, hamsters behave aggressively towards relatives and often arrange fights. In winter, they fall into a prolonged numbness, which is still not real hibernation.
Hamsters have a twilight lifestyle. During the day they remain in their minks, which reach 8 m in length and 1.5 m in depth. May occupy the gopher burrows. In a constant hole, from 2-5, sometimes up to 10 exits, a nesting chamber and pantries.
Hamsters are known for their fertility, they bring 2-4 litters per year. The duration of pregnancy is from 15 to 22 days, in one brood from 1 to 18 babies, they become sexually mature already at the 6-8th week of life. In natural conditions, hamsters live from 1 to 3 years, at home about 3 years.
At home, they contain Syrian, Dzungarian, Campbell hamsters and Robor hamsters. Syrian hamsters are very diverse in color, pattern and type of coat. Long-haired Syrian males are sometimes mistakenly called "Angora".
Choosing a hamster, take into account that Roborovsky hamsters can live in flocks, and the rest of the species are solitary, and when they are kept together, fights arise, which often lead to the death of the weaker of the hamsters. With the joint maintenance of heterosexual hamsters, the female gives birth very often, which harms her health and shortens her life. A pregnant female is able to kill or injure a male, protecting her cubs.
The size of the cage for hamsters must be at least 50 cm by 30 cm. A wheel with a running surface (14-18 cm in diameter) must be installed in the cage. Eating at home is no different from eating in nature. The basis of the diet is cereal and green plants.
For mating, a pair is selected from a male 4 months old and females from 9 months old. They are brought together on neutral territory or in a male’s cage during the female estrus period, which occurs for several hours every 4 days. Pregnancy lasts from 17 to 20 days. At the age of 4 weeks, young growth is separated from the female, separated by gender.
Interesting facts about the rodent:
- The word "hamster" is of Old Slavic origin, which in turn is borrowed from the Old Iranian, where "hamaēstar" is translated as "an enemy that throws to the ground." This probably indicates that the hamster bends the stem of the cereal to the ground and thus takes out the seeds.
- The Syrian and Newton's hamster are included in the International Red Book.
- Hamsters cause damage to agriculture, as they feed on legumes and crops. In addition, they are carriers of pathogens of a number of infectious diseases, which is why their content is prohibited in Vietnam. The maximum fine for violation is 30 million dong, which is equal to the annual income of a resident of this country. But hamsters also benefit. For example, the skins of certain types of hamsters are harvested. Hamsters are also used as laboratory animals and pets.