Syrian hamster ( Mesocricetus auratus ). Coloring and drawing largely correspond to the wild form.
|( Waterhouse , 1839)|
The Syrian golden hamsters or short golden hamsters ( Mesocricetus auratus ) is a mammal of the subfamily of the hamster (Cricetinae). The small Middle East distribution area of the species covers less than 20,000 km² in the border region of Syria and Turkey . Today the animals predominantly inhabit fertile farmland on which wheat , barley and other crops are grown. The population is declining and possibly fragmented due to habitat destruction and direct persecution, the IUCN therefore lists the Syrian golden hamster as endangered ("vulnerable").
Golden hamsters are very often kept as experimental animals or pets . In addition to the wild form, there are various breeding variants.
Gold hamsters are smaller than the domestic also in Central Europe hamster . The head-trunk length is 120–165 mm, the tail length 13–15 mm, the length of the hind feet 19 mm and the ear length 21–22 mm. The animals weigh 80-150 g. The fur is bright red-brown on the upper side, the middle of the back is slightly darker. There is a black stripe below the ears, and the top of the head often also shows a faint dark vertical stripe. The chest is more or less pronounced dark brown with a narrow white central band. The rest of the underside is creamy white.
distribution and habitat
The small Middle East distribution area of the species covers less than 20,000 km² in the border region of Syria and Turkey . The main distribution area is the 10–15,000 km², fertile, arable and densely populated plateau of Aleppo in northern Syria. In Turkey, the species has so far only been found in three different locations. The Turkish and Syrian deposits may still be linked, but the strong military presence in this border area means that research to confirm this is currently very difficult. Today, the animals predominantly live in fields where wheat , barley and other crops are grown.
A description of the golden hamster was first published in 1797, the first description by Waterhouse was in 1839 using a museum specimen of unknown origin. The document is now in the Natural History Museum in London .
Way of life
In contrast to the behavior of the pets, at least female golden hamsters in Turkey are mostly active on the day outside the burrow with two distinct activity peaks in the morning between 6:00 and 8:00 and in the late afternoon between 16:00 and 19:30. The animals are loners and create earthworks with an entrance, a nest chamber and several tunnels branching off from this, which are used for urine release and storage chambers. 18 structures excavated in Syria were 36 to 106 cm, on average 65 cm below the surface of the earth. The entire tunnel system can be up to 9 m long. The species is omnivorous, the food consists of green parts of plants, seeds, fruits and insects . Further information on the way of life of the species in the field is hardly available; According to observations by farmers, the animals hibernate from November to February .
In the wild, golden hamsters begin to reproduce in February. A female with two to three week old pups was found in Syria at the end of March.
The animals reach sexual maturity between the 35th and 45th day of life.
Existence and endangerment
Golden hamsters are evidently common, at least locally. The main threat is the destruction of the habitat by the construction of settlements. In Syria, farmers also classify the species as a pest and fight it intensively through capture and poisoning. The population is declining and possibly fragmented, the IUCN therefore lists the Syrian golden hamster as endangered ("vulnerable").
In 1930, Israel Aharoni captured a female with eleven cubs on the plateau of Aleppo ( Syria ) to establish a breeding line for experimental animals , of which only four cubs, three males and one female survived. These were multiplied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem . All other golden hamsters in captivity, both laboratory animals and pets, descended from them for a long time.
In 1931 animals were brought to England and France, and in 1937 Syrian hamsters were first given to private owners in England. In 1938 animals were exported from England to the USA. The first specimens from breeding in the USA came to Germany in 1948, and golden hamsters have been established as experimental animals worldwide since the mid-1950s. It was not until 1971 that some wild-caught animals from Syria were brought back into breeding.
Today the golden hamster is one of the most common pets. Gattermann gives about 1 million golden hamsters kept as pets for Germany alone for the end of the 1990s, for the western industrialized countries as a whole he estimates the number at 7 to 8 million.
In human care, the golden hamster usually has a life expectancy of 18 to 24 months, with an average of around 20 months. Golden hamsters kept as pets from breeding are usually much lighter than the wild form. In addition, today there are numerous breeding breeds with other colors and / or, such as z. B. the so-called "teddy hamster", with longer hair. Golden hamsters drawn in multiple colors are called "Scheckenhamsters" in breeding circles. B. white, "wild-colored", beige, brown or black areas of fur.
- ↑ R. Gattermann: 70 years of golden hamsters in human care - how big are the differences to their wild relatives? Tierlaboratorium 23, 2000, pp. 86-99.
- ^ R. Gattermann, RE Johnston, N. Yigit, P. Fritzsche, S. Larimer, S. Özkurt, K. Neumann, Z. Song, E. Colak, J. Johnston and ME McPhee: Golden hamsters are nocturnal in captivity but diurnal in nature. Biol. Lett. 2008: pp. 253-255 doi : 10.1098 / rsbl.2008.0066
- ^ R. Gattermann, P. Fritzsche, K. Neumann, I. Al-Hussein, A. Kayser, M. Abiad and R. Yakti: Notes on the current distribution and the ecology of wild golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus). Journal of Zoology 254, 2001, pp. 359-365.
- ↑ a b Mesocricetus auratus in the endangered Red List species the IUCN 2009. Posted by Yigit, N. & Krystufek, B., 2008. Accessed February 12, 2013.
- ↑ http://www.bmgf.gv.at/home/Schwerpunkte/Tiergesundheit/Tierschutz/Heim_und_Wildtiere/Goldhamster Bundesministerium f. Health.
- ↑ R. Gattermann: 70 years of golden hamsters in human care - how big are the differences to their wild relatives? Tierlaboratorium 23, 2000, pp. 87-88.
- ↑ George C. Kent, Jr .: Physiology of Reproduction . In: Roger A. Hoffman, Paul F. Robinson, Hulda Magalhaes (Eds.): The Golden Hamster: Its Biology and Use in Medical Research . The Iowa State University Press, Ames (Iowa) 1968, pp. 119-138 (p. 119).
- ^ Charles W. McPherson: Selected Normative Data for the Syrian Golden Hamster . In: GL Van Hoosier, Jr., Charles W. McPherson (Eds.): Laboratory Hamsters . Academic Press, Orlando et al. a. 1987, ISBN 0-12-714165-0 , pp. 301-302 (p. 301).
- ^ Richard E. Grindeland, G. Edgar Folk, Jr., Richard L. Farrand: Some Factors Influencing the Life Span of Golden Hamsters . In: The Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science . tape 64 , 1957, ISSN 0085-2236 , pp. 638-643 .
- S. Aulagnier, P. Haffner, AJ Mitchell-Jones, F. Moutou, J. Zima: The mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East - The destination guide. Haupt Verlag, Bern / Stuttgart / Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-258-07506-8 , pp. 188-189.
- R. Gattermann : 70 years of golden hamsters in human care - how big are the differences to their wild relatives? Tierlaboratorium 23, 2000: pp. 86-99. Manuscript online, pdf
- Mesocricetus auratus in the endangered Red List species the IUCN 2012. Posted by Yigit, N. & Krystufek, B., 2008. Accessed February 12, 2013.