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Common hamster

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This is the largest, most brightly colored, most aggressive, most "harmful" of the hamsters of our fauna - in general, the most-most-most, although it is called ordinary.

Externally, this hamster is easy to distinguish from other rodents. His body length is 20-35 cm, the weight of males is from 300 to 600 g, females are a quarter lighter. An ordinary hamster uses cheek pouches not only to carry food, but also as a "craft": in the water, the animal inflates the bags and swims boldly on them like on a lifebuoy.

The color is very variable, there are three main options - the predominant tri-color, black and intermediate black-piebald. Three-colored hamsters have a buffy-brown back, black abdomen, and three large white spots on the sides. Black hamsters are melanistic mutants, all black, and black-pinto are painted black, but their light side spots are the same as those of the three-colored ones. These color variants have a fairly simple genetic nature, so that females of all variants can be found in the female in one litter. It is noteworthy that, depending on climatic and biotopic conditions, the ratio of these options varies. Where it is wetter, black hamsters are more common, and in arid treeless regions - tricolor.

The vast area of ​​the common hamster covers the central and southern regions of Europe, the south of Western Siberia, including the Altai Mountains, and the north of Kazakhstan, northeast of China. The animals live mainly in open spaces - steppes and semi-deserts, to a lesser extent in the forest-steppe. Everywhere prefers to settle on soft soils, whether it is a floodplain of the river, the edge of the forest or the edge of the field. In mountainous areas in steppe areas hamsters rises to a height of 2200 meters. They are actively exploring cities and towns, living in warehouses, among fields and gardens, in densely populated places in the wild almost never occur.

Ordinary hamsters live alone, but where there are many of them, burrows can be located as densely as if it were a real colony. An inlet with a diameter of 7-9 centimeters, near which a dug earth is scattered, leads into a vertical or inclined course to a meter or even greater depth. The old hole usually has several exits and chambers connected by a network of underground tunnels with a total length of up to 5 meters: some cameras are nesting, others are adapted for warehouses. Burrows are constantly being rebuilt: some moves are clogged, others erupt again.

These large hamsters lead a rather secretive lifestyle, appear on the surface only at night, in case of danger they try to hide in a hole. However, if an ordinary hamster is caught away from the shelter, he boldly rushes at the pursuer, even at the person, making peculiar howling sounds, jumps surprisingly high for such a lump, pushes and tries to bite. Penetrating into small cities, ordinary hamsters successfully compete with the regulars of human dwellings - gray rats and sometimes successfully displace them, although pasyuki are not timid animals.

An ordinary hamster spends the cold season in a sleepy state. Although the body temperature of a sleeping animal drops to 5-7 °, this is not real hibernation: during warming, hamsters wake up and reinforce themselves from their underground reserves, and sometimes, if they are not enough, they even move through the snow from one hole to another. Living indoors, these rodents are active year-round.

The hamster eats mainly wild-growing cereals and legumes, seeds of agricultural crops, in springtime green grass. He consumes a lot of animal feed, especially in the spring, when fresh greens have not yet grown, and stocks have already run out. He is able to ruin the ground nest of a small bird, will not miss the opportunity to eat a lizard or a frog, even a small rodent. An ordinary hamster stores food mainly in the fall, when grains ripen - oats, wheat, corn, peas. In his clods, one can find up to a pound of selected grain, as well as root crops, they say that 2-3 pounds of food were also pulled out of the hole in the most thrifty animals.

The breeding season begins in early spring and ends in late autumn, during this time 2-3 broods appear, by the end of summer, mature fingerlings are added to the breeding adult females. After a three-week pregnancy, 6 to 16 cubs will be born. In especially large broods, there are more young ones than female nipples, so they have to compete for access to dairy food. Naturally, not everyone can withstand competition and die at a very young age.

An ordinary hamster is one of the main pests of agriculture in the middle lane. Together with ground squirrels, he eats and tramples large "bald patches" on the fields of grain, damages crops of sugar beets, carrots, potatoes. No less harm from him and in the warehouses, where he moves closer to the cold. In addition, with this rodent, a disease dangerous to humans spreads like tularemia.

Dagestan hamster (Mesocricetus raddei) is slightly less than usual: body length up to 28 cm, tail no more than the back foot. The color is quite bright: the top is brownish-buffy, the throat is black, whitish spots in the shoulder area. This hamster is a close relative of the well-known golden, or Syrian hamster - one of the most familiar inhabitants of living corners.

The range of this hamster is small, bounded by foothill and low-mountain dry steppes of the western Ciscaucasia at altitudes of 1600-2300 meters. He willingly settles on agricultural lands, especially fallow lands. Digs holes with 1-3 vertical exits up to a meter deep, and their structure in the mountains is more complicated than on the plain, although the soil there is more rocky. Sleeps, depending on the length of the snowy period, from 4 to 6 months a year. In spring and in the first half of summer, these hamsters feed on the green parts of grassy plants, dig freshly sown wheat and barley grains in the fields, and later switch to ripened seeds (preferring legumes to all) and root crops. It is their Dagestan hamsters that are stocked for the winter in large quantities, sometimes more than a pound. The animals reproduce very actively: in mountainous regions, where the warm season is shorter, there are usually 2 litters per year, and on the plain - 3 and even 4, young in one brood up to 20.

External view

The largest representative of the hamster subfamily. The body length of adult males is 27-34 cm, the tail is 3.5-5.8 cm. The tail is thick at the base, quickly thinning towards the end, covered with short and stiff hair. The muzzle is of moderate length. The auricles are quite short, covered with thin, darkish hair. The hand and foot are wide, with well-developed claws on the fingers, with which he tears the offender to shreds.

The hair is thick and soft. The skin color is bright, contrasting: the upper body is plain, reddish-brown, the abdomen is black. On the front sides are two large bright spots, usually separated by a patch of black fur. There is also a light spot on the sides of the head and behind the ears, sometimes in the area of ​​the shoulder blades. Often there are completely black specimens (melanists) or black specimens with white spots on the legs and throat. More than 10 subspecies are described. Coloring of hamsters brightens from north to south, body sizes grow from west to east and from north to south.

Spread

The common hamster is common in meadow and forest-steppes, as well as in the mixed grass steppes of Eurasia from Belgium to Altai and Northern Xinjiang.

In Russia, the northern border of the range goes from Smolensk north of Rzhev to Yaroslavl, Kirov and Perm, in the north of the Perm region it reaches 59 ° 40 's. sh., in Zauralie goes through Yekaterinburg, crosses the Irtysh north of Tobolsk and the Ob in the Kolpashevo area, from where it goes to Krasnoyarsk. The Minusinsk steppe forms the eastern border, where the hamster entered relatively recently. The southern border runs along the Azov and Black Sea coasts to about Gagra, covers the western Ciscaucasia, bends from the north of the desert and semi-desert of the eastern Caspian Sea and the Volga-Ural interfluve, crosses the Volga in the Astrakhan region. Then it goes to Kazakhstan, where it goes about 47 ° s. w. to the lower reaches of the river. Sarysu, captures the northern part of Betpak-Dala, the central and northeastern parts of the Kazakh small hills, valley rr. Or Karatal, foothill areas of the northern and eastern Tien Shan, Alakol and Zaysan hollows and along the border of western Altai goes to the right bank of the Yenisei near the village. Beyskoye.

Lifestyle

Most abundant in the forest-steppe, in the mixed grass and grass-mixed grass steppes. It penetrates into the forest zone through floodplain and upland meadows, as well as through forest (secondarily deforested and plowed areas). In the south of the range, it adheres to humid areas: river valleys, depressions. It rises to the mountains to the lower border of the forest, and if there is no forest belt, to mountain meadows inclusive. It settles in cultivated areas - in forest belts, parks, gardens, vegetable gardens and even in residential buildings. On sandy and loose areas settles less often than on dense soils.

Twilight lifestyle. The day spends in a hole, usually deep and complex, reaching 8 m in length and more than 1.5 m in depth. Sometimes it takes gopher burrows. The permanent burrow has 2-5, rarely up to 10 exits, a nesting chamber and several pantries. Outside of the breeding season, an ordinary hamster leads a solitary lifestyle, is aggressive towards relatives and pugnacious.

Nutrition

The hamster is omnivorous, but vegetable feed predominates in its diet. In addition to them, it eats insects and their larvae, small vertebrates (mice, reptiles and amphibians). By the fall, it completely switches to feeding on seeds and tubers, which it stores in significant quantities - from 0.5 to 11-16 kg. Known hamster pantries with grain reserves of up to 90 kg. The hamster feeds them in the winter, when it temporarily wakes up from hibernation, as well as in the spring until fresh feed appears.

The hamster carries feed in cheek pouches, sometimes more than a kilometer away. Its cheek pouches hold up to 46 g of wheat. In the pantries were found selected exfoliated grain (less often whole ears), peas, millet, buckwheat, lupine, corn, lentils, potatoes. The hamster stacks different varieties of seeds separately.

Conservation status

Although the abundance of an ordinary hamster is not very high, due to the long period of activity and the ability to collect significant reserves of grain, it is considered a more dangerous pest of field and garden crops than ground squirrels. It reaches the greatest number in the Ciscaucasia-Ob-Ural, Bashkir, Pritobol and Irtysh-Ob-Predaltai regions. During the years of depression, the number of steppe mouse-like rodents becomes the primary carrier of pathogens of a number of natural focal diseases, including leptospirosis, tularemia and plague (Kazakhstan). It gives an inexpensive, but rather warm and durable fur.

In nature, an ordinary hamster is pugnacious and nonliving, but under conditions of captivity, its aggression is not so strong. Young hamsters caught in captivity are easily tamed and show a friendly disposition.

Color of the animal

The animal has a beautiful multi-colored skin. The main color is reddish, breast and abdomen are black. Paws, nose, cheeks and several spots on the sides are white. Depending on the habitat, its tone may be lighter or darker. Sometimes there are animals in which a non-standard black and white or pure black color. Many agree that an ordinary hamster is the most beautiful of its family. Therefore, for the sake of bright fur they hunt him with special dogs.

Where does the hamster live

Typically, the size of a hamster depends on the area in which it lives. You can meet him in the south of Europe, mainly in the steppe zone. He also lives in Northern Kazakhstan and Western Siberia. Of course, sometimes an ordinary hamster climbs into new territories for him, even in cities. He prefers to settle near vegetable gardens or fields to provide for his food.

Diet

An animal can eat a variety of foods, but its main dish is plant food. His diet contains herbs, peas, grains, flowers, corn, alfalfa, seeds and tubers. But on occasion, he will not refuse to eat insects or invertebrates. Frogs, lizards, chicks, and sometimes mice can become its victims. As autumn approaches, hamsters begin to actively stock up on food, which they carry in their bags, holding them with their paws. By the beginning of winter, the animal’s pantries are filled with a large number of tubers and seeds (from 500 g to 25 kg). Therefore, in order to provide for itself, an ordinary hamster prefers to settle near agricultural land. Surprisingly, this "owner" found burrows in burrows in which various varieties of cereals were stacked separately.

Sometimes many relatives can be located in one territory, which leads to a lack of nutrition. Therefore, an ordinary hamster can move to other areas. During such migrations, even rivers are not afraid of the animal, since it easily overcomes them.

Rutting Period and Motherhood

With the advent of spring, the hamster leaves its winter hole and sets off in search of the female. In her hole, he can stumble upon an opponent with whom a fight will necessarily take place. After victory, he marks the hole and waits for the consent of the female. Having got what he wants, the hamster goes home. The female, three weeks after this meeting, has a brood in which there can be from 4 to 20 heirs. Each hamster weighs about 5 grams, and in the second week their eyes open, and the body is overgrown with wool. If the offspring are in danger, the mother transfers him to a quiet place in bags intended for food.

After a month, the kids become independent and are forced to leave their native nest. Freed from motherhood, the female is ready to accept the male again. In one season, the animal can have two or three, and sometimes five broods happen. An ordinary hamster becomes mature by the age of three months, so by the end of summer young offspring may have their own babies.

Relationship with man

People like to have different cute animals at home. But very rarely an ordinary hamster becomes a person’s pet. The description of his life shows that this animal needs freedom and does not like society. Therefore, for breeding in cells, other breeds were bred. In addition to its aggressiveness (in captivity, maliciousness is not so pronounced), this beast is distinguished by the fact that it carries diseases, such as encephalitis. But some people still decide to get such a beast. Experience proves that it will never become tame. In addition, difficulties may arise when, with the onset of spring, the animal will have natural needs, and he will need to look for a couple. Some specimens are able to breed in captivity. The hamster has a lifespan of approximately 8 years.

Of its kind, Cricetus cricetus is the only representative. Of course, there are still many animals that belong to the hamster family. But unlike their rodent relatives that can be tamed, this one cannot be domesticated and feels best at large. This hamster was first described by a scientist in 1774.

It is worth noting that in many areas this beast is a pest that steals cultivated plants, and therefore undergoes targeted destruction. But the huge speed of its reproduction contributes to the fact that the animal is not threatened with extinction. Also, this beast is used as a laboratory animal.

Hamyak are extraordinary

Brest region - Baranavichy (?), Berezovsky, Brest, Zhabinkovsky, Kamenetsk, Kobrin, Pruzhansky

Gomel region - Gomel (?), Dobrush (?) Districts

Family Hamsters (Cricetidae).

A rare species for the republic.In Belarus, it is distributed in the southeastern part of Gomel and in the southwestern part of the Brest regions (noted in Brest, Kamenets, Kobrinsky, Pruzhansky and other areas).

Body length 21.5-31 cm (up to 34 cm), tail 2.8-6.5 cm, feet 3.4-4.2 cm, ear 2.5-3.7 cm. Weight 150–250 g ( less often up to 500 g). The physique is tight, legs are short. Brush and feet wide, fingers with well-developed claws. The tail is short, thick at the base and sharply thinning towards the end, covered with short stiff hair. The ears are small, rounded, covered with thin dark hairs. The eyes are small. Cheek pouches are well developed.

The hair is thick, soft, reddish-brown on the back and sides (rusty-brownish or reddish-yellow), black or black-brown on the chest, abdomen and chin. On each side of the head and front of the body on each side there are three white spots with a yellowish tinge. The end of the muzzle and paws are white. Almost black or black and white individuals are found.

The hamster is a typical animal of the steppes and forest-steppes. Most often, he settles in agricultural land on the border of fields, along roadsides, on the outskirts of shrubby spikes.

Lives in holes. The hamster’s burrows are deep, with many exits to the surface of the earth. Burrows can be arranged in fields with various crops, on the unploughed outskirts of fields, along roadsides, forest edges, in gardens, kitchen gardens and other biotopes. From the nesting chamber, in which the animal is resting, rearing cubs or hibernating, snores leave, leading to the pantry with food supplies. In the examined pantries, small (200-400 g each) stocks of flax (head), buckwheat, oats, consisting of the same crops.

The hamster leads a single-family lifestyle. The family arises only during the breeding season. This bold and evil animal is active mainly at dusk and at night. When an animal attacks, it usually runs away, but there are times when it stands on its hind legs, makes sharp whistling sounds and assumes a threatening pose, while inflating cheek bags. In this position, bright black and red bottom and body sides are visible, producing a repelling effect on potential enemies (affection, ermine, fox).

Feeds at night. The hamster eats green parts of cultivated and wild plants, seeds, bulbs, and root crops. Its diet also includes various insects, small vertebrates and other feeds. In the autumn-winter period, the proportion of seeds in the diet of the hamster is higher than in the spring-summer. For the winter, the animal makes stocks that include seeds of various plants, grains of wheat, rye and other crops, root crops. Stocks can sometimes reach 10 kg or more. The food carries in cheekbags, sometimes more than a kilometer.

In late autumn, the animal hibernates, which in the winter can be interrupted, especially during prolonged thaws. By the beginning of the period of hibernation, the mass of the hamster increases by 10-20% or more due to the accumulation of fat reserves consumed during hibernation. Waking up during hibernation, the animal eats fodder stored in the fall. It finally awakens from hibernation in early spring in March-April, the timing of awakening depends on weather conditions in early and warm springs, awakening occurs 10-20 days earlier than in cold and late ones.

The breeding season of the common hamster begins in the second half of March - April and depends on the specific environmental situation. In favorable years, reproduction begins 2-3 weeks earlier compared with unfavorable. The duration of pregnancy is 30-35 days. Cubs are born helpless and are in the nest for about a month under the care of their parents. About a month old, young hamsters leave the nest and begin to lead an independent life. During the breeding season, which lasts until September, one female brings up to 2 litters, consisting of an average of 6-8 cubs. Sometimes broods of 15-18 cubs are found.

The common hamster in Belarus is a rare animal. Its mass reproduction and high numbers over the past 30 years have not been noted. In some years, in the biotopes favorable to the hamster in the Kamenets and Brest regions, there were no more than 4-7 residential holes per 1 ha. In 1990, in the Baranavichy district, a hamster was found only in the vicinity of the village of Sosnovaya. In subsequent years, this area was not found. In 1978-2002 It was found in the southern part of the Pruzhany district, in the Kamenetsky district, in the western part of the Zhabinka district and the northern part of the Brest region up to the border of the city of Brest. In 1986, it was discovered in the vicinity of the village of Gorodets of the Kobrinsky district, in 2000-02. there is no longer registered. As early as the beginning of the 2000s, a decrease of 70-80% was indicated and this decrease continues. The size of the Brest-Pruzhanskaya group in 1990-2012. decreased by 50-60%. The absence of documentary information about the fate of the Gomel-Dobrush group in the last 40 years does not exclude the possibility of this group disappearing. In addition, there is practically no new data on this rodent that lives on the territory of Belarus.

Now they are again trying to study the state of the hamster population in the republic more systematically in the framework of the campaign "Hamster, ground squirrel and flying squirrel: save super rodents!" If the last two species showed some progress in the study, then there is very little data on the hamster. At least they have not been published yet. According to A. Serbun, he knows only a few reliable meetings of the hamster in 2019, all were not on the fields themselves, but on adjacent objects: the cottage was near the forest, it fell into a mousetrap (Berezovsky district), the grain near the forest ( Kobrinsky district), the roots of a detached oak tree in the middle of the field near the forest (Kobrin district). A survey of nearby open areas has not yielded results.

Enemies of hamsters - foxes, ermines, dark hori, etc.

The life span of a hamster reaches 3 years.

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