Hamster
Overview
Hamsters are rodent
Rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

s belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae. The subfamily contains about 25 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, classified in six or seven genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

.

Hamsters are crepuscular
Crepuscular
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight, that is during dawn and dusk. The word is derived from the Latin word crepusculum, meaning "twilight." Crepuscular is, thus, in contrast with diurnal and nocturnal behavior. Crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright...

 animals which burrow underground in the daylight to avoid being caught by predators. Their diet includes a variety of foods, including dried food, berries, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables. In the wild they feed primarily on seeds, fruits and greens, and will occasionally eat burrowing insects.
Encyclopedia
Hamsters are rodent
Rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

s belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae. The subfamily contains about 25 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, classified in six or seven genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

.

Hamsters are crepuscular
Crepuscular
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight, that is during dawn and dusk. The word is derived from the Latin word crepusculum, meaning "twilight." Crepuscular is, thus, in contrast with diurnal and nocturnal behavior. Crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright...

 animals which burrow underground in the daylight to avoid being caught by predators. Their diet includes a variety of foods, including dried food, berries, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables. In the wild they feed primarily on seeds, fruits and greens, and will occasionally eat burrowing insects. They have an elongated pouch on each side of their heads that extend to their shoulders, which they stuff full of food to be stored, brought back to the colony or to be eaten later.

Although the golden hamster
Golden Hamster
The golden hamster or Syrian hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, is a very well known member of the rodent subfamily Cricetinae, the hamsters. In the wild they are now considered vulnerable. Their numbers have been declining due to loss of habitat and deliberate destruction by humans. However, they are...

 (Mesocricetus auratus) was first described scientifically in 1839, it was not until 1930 that researchers were able to successfully breed and domesticate hamsters. Pet golden hamsters are descended from hamsters first found and captured in Syria by zoologist Israel Aharoni
Israel Aharoni
Israel Aharoni was a zoologist in Ottoman and British Palestine widely known as the "first Hebrew zoologist." Aharoni discovered 30 previously unknown species of animals, insects and birds, and is credited with giving them Hebrew names.Aharoni is best known for collecting a litter of Syrian...

.

Hamster behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

 can vary depending on their environment, genetics, and interaction with people. Because they are easy to breed in captivity
Captivity (animal)
Animals that live under human care are in captivity. Captivity can be used as a generalizing term to describe the keeping of either domesticated animals or wild animals. This may include for example farms, private homes and zoos...

, hamsters are often used as lab animals
Animal testing
Animal testing, also known as animal experimentation, animal research, and in vivo testing, is the use of non-human animals in experiments. Worldwide it is estimated that the number of vertebrate animals—from zebrafish to non-human primates—ranges from the tens of millions to more than 100 million...

 in more economically developed countries. Hamsters have also become established as popular small house pet
Pet
A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful...

s. Hamsters are sometimes accepted even in areas where other rodents are disliked, and their stereotypically solitary nature can reduce the risk of excessive litters developing in households.

Etymology of name

The name hamster is a loanword
Loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

 from the German, which itself derives from earlier Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 hamustro. It is possibly related to Old Russian choměstrǔ, which is either a blend of the root of Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 khomiak "hamster" and a Baltic word (cf. Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

 staras "hamster") or of Persian origin (cf. Av hamaēstar "oppressor")

Characteristics

Hamsters are stout-bodied, with tails shorter than body length, and have small furry ears, short stocky legs, and wide feet. Their thick, silky fur, which can be long or short, can be black, gray, honey, white, brown, yellow, or red depending on the species, or a mix of any of those colors.

Two species of hamsters belonging to the genus PhodopusPhodopus campbelli (Campbell's dwarf hamster
Campbell's dwarf hamster
Campbell's Russian dwarf hamster is a species of dwarf hamster. It was discovered by W.C. Campbell in 1902 in Tuva, an area that has historically been geographically linked with both China and Russia...

) and Phodopus sungorus (the Djungarian hamster
Djungarian hamster
The Djungarian hamster , also known as the Siberian hamster or Russian winter white dwarf hamster, is a species of hamster in the genus Phodopus. It is ball-shaped and typically half the size of the Syrian hamster, and therefore called a dwarf hamster along with all Phodopus species...

) — and also two of the species of the genus CricetulusCricetulus barabensis (the Chinese striped hamster
Chinese Striped Hamster
The Chinese striped hamster , also known as the striped dwarf hamster, is a species of hamster. It is distributed across Northern Asia, from southern Siberia through Mongolia and northeastern China to northern North Korea. An adult Chinese striped hamster weighs 16.7-31.0g, and has a body length...

) and Cricetulus griseus (the Chinese hamster
Chinese hamster
The Chinese hamster , is a species of hamster originating from the deserts of northern China and Mongolia.- Description :...

) — have a dark stripe down the head to tail. The species of genus Phodopus are the smallest, with bodies 5.5 to 10.5 cm (2.2 to 4.1 ) long; the largest is the European hamster
European Hamster
The European hamster, , also known as the black-bellied hamster or common hamster, is a hamster which is the only species of the genus Cricetus. It is native to a large global range, extending from western Europe, through central and eastern Europe, Russia, and Kazakhstan, reaching as far east as...

 (Cricetus cricetus), measuring up to 34 centimetres (13.4 in) long, not including a short tail of up to 6 centimetres (2.4 in). The Angora hamster, also known as the long-haired or teddy bear hamster, which is a type of the golden hamster
Golden Hamster
The golden hamster or Syrian hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, is a very well known member of the rodent subfamily Cricetinae, the hamsters. In the wild they are now considered vulnerable. Their numbers have been declining due to loss of habitat and deliberate destruction by humans. However, they are...

 is the second-largest hamster breed, measuring up to 18 centimetres (7.1 in) long.

Hamsters have poor eyesight; they are nearsighted and colorblind. "To compensate for their poor sight when in unfamiliar territory, hamsters have scent glands on their flanks (and abdomens in Chinese and dwarf hamsters). A hamster rubs these areas of his body against various objects, and leaves a trail of smells the hamster can follow to return to his home den." Hamsters can use their sense of smell to detect gender, locate food, and detect pheremones. They are also particularly sensitive to high-pitched noises and can hear and communicate in the ultrasonic range.

The tail is sometimes difficult to see; usually it is not very long (about 1/6 the length of their body) with exception of the Chinese dwarf hamster whose tail is the same length as the body. On a long haired hamster it is barely visible. Hamsters are very flexible, and their bones are somewhat fragile. They are extremely susceptible to rapid temperature changes and drafts, as well as extreme heat or cold.

Hamsters are omnivorous. They eat most things, and although they should regularly be given a diet of normal hamster food, it is enjoyable for both the owner and the hamster to experiment with other things, such as vegetables, fruits (though these should be removed once they go rotten or bad), seeds, and nuts. Hamsters are hindgut fermenters and must eat their own feces in order to digest their food a second time. This practice is called coprophagy and is necessary for the hamster to obtain the proper nutrients from its food.

One characteristic of rodents that is highly visible in hamsters is their sharp incisors. They have two pairs in the front of their mouths and these incisors never stop growing and thus must be regularly worn down. Hamsters carry food in their spacious cheek pouches to their underground storage chambers. When full, their cheeks can make their heads double (or even triple) in size. Hamsters in the Middle East have been known to hunt in packs to find insects for food.

Behavior

Syrian Hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) are generally solitary and may fight to the death if put together. Some dwarf hamster species may get along with others of the same species. Russian hamsters form close, monogamous bonds with their mates. If separated, they may become very depressed. This happens especially in males. Males will become inactive, eat more, and even show some behavioural changes similar to some types of depression in humans. This can even cause obesity in the hamster.

Hamsters are primarily considered crepuscular
Crepuscular
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight, that is during dawn and dusk. The word is derived from the Latin word crepusculum, meaning "twilight." Crepuscular is, thus, in contrast with diurnal and nocturnal behavior. Crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright...

 because they live underground during most of the day, only leaving their burrows about an hour before sundown and then returning when it gets dark. At one point they were considered nocturnal because they may get up during the night. Some species have been observed to show more nocturnal activity than others, but primarily they are all crepuscular. All hamsters are excellent diggers, constructing burrows with one or more entrances and with galleries that are connected to chambers for nesting, food storage, and other activities. They will also appropriate tunnels made by other mammals; the Djungarian hamster
Djungarian hamster
The Djungarian hamster , also known as the Siberian hamster or Russian winter white dwarf hamster, is a species of hamster in the genus Phodopus. It is ball-shaped and typically half the size of the Syrian hamster, and therefore called a dwarf hamster along with all Phodopus species...

 (Phodopus sungorus), for instance, uses paths and burrows of the pika
Pika
The pika is a small mammal, with short limbs, rounded ears, and short tail. The name pika is used for any member of the Ochotonidae, a family within the order of lagomorphs, which also includes the Leporidae . One genus, Ochotona, is recognised within the family, and it includes 30 species...

. Although hamsters do not hibernate per se, they do “close down” a number of systems, such as breathing and heartbeat rate, for short periods of time. These periods of torpor
Torpor
Torpor, sometimes called temporary hibernation is a state of decreased physiological activity in an animal, usually characterized by a reduced body temperature and rate of metabolism. Animals that go through torpor include birds and some mammals such as mice and bats...

, which is "a state of mental or physical inactivity or insensibility" can last up to seven to ten days.

Reproduction

Hamsters become fertile at different ages depending on their species, but this can be from one month to three months of age. The female’s reproductive life only lasts about 18 months, but male hamsters remain fertile much longer. Females are in heat approximately every four days, which is indicated by a reddening of genital areas, a musky smell and a hissing, squeaking type noise she will give off if she believes a male is nearby.

Hamsters are seasonal breeder
Seasonal breeder
Seasonal breeders are animal species that successfully mate only during certain times of the year. These times of year allow for the births at a time optimal for the survival of the young in terms of factors such as temperature, food and water. Related sexual interest and behaviors are expressed...

s. Breeding season is from April to October in the northern hemisphere, with two to five litters of 1 to 13 young being born after a gestation period of 16 to 23 days. Gestation lasts 16 to 18 days for golden hamster
Golden Hamster
The golden hamster or Syrian hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, is a very well known member of the rodent subfamily Cricetinae, the hamsters. In the wild they are now considered vulnerable. Their numbers have been declining due to loss of habitat and deliberate destruction by humans. However, they are...

s, 18 to 21 days for the Russian hamsters, 21 to 23 days for Chinese hamster
Chinese hamster
The Chinese hamster , is a species of hamster originating from the deserts of northern China and Mongolia.- Description :...

s and 23 to 30 for Roborovski hamster
Roborovski hamster
Roborovskis or desert hamsters are the smallest of all hamsters, averaging under an inch at birth, and three inches during adulthood...

s. The average litter for golden hamsters is about 7, but can be as great as 24, which is the maximum number of pups that can be contained in the uterus. Campbell's dwarf hamster
Campbell's dwarf hamster
Campbell's Russian dwarf hamster is a species of dwarf hamster. It was discovered by W.C. Campbell in 1902 in Tuva, an area that has historically been geographically linked with both China and Russia...

s tend to have 4 to 8 in a litter but can have up to 14. Djungarian hamster
Djungarian hamster
The Djungarian hamster , also known as the Siberian hamster or Russian winter white dwarf hamster, is a species of hamster in the genus Phodopus. It is ball-shaped and typically half the size of the Syrian hamster, and therefore called a dwarf hamster along with all Phodopus species...

s tend to have slightly smaller litters, as do Chinese and Roborovski hamsters.

Chinese hamster females are known for being aggressive toward the male if kept together for too long. In some cases, male Chinese hamsters can die after being attacked by the female. If breeding Chinese hamsters, it is recommended to separate the pair after mating or the hamsters will attack each other.

Syrian hamster females are also very aggressive toward male hamsters and must be separated immediately after breeding in order to prevent an attack. Female hamsters are also particularly sensitive to disturbances while giving birth and may even eat her own young if she thinks they are in danger, although sometimes she is just carrying the pups in her cheek pouches.

Hamsters are born hairless and blind in a nest that the mother will have prepared in advance. After one week they begin to explore outside the nest. They are completely weaned after three weeks, or four for Roborovski Hamsters. Most breeders will sell the hamsters to shops when the hamsters are anywhere from three to nine weeks old.

Mating and longevity

Syrian hamsters typically live no more than two to three years in captivity, less than that in the wild. Russian hamsters (Campbell's and Djungarian) live approximately 2 to 4 years in captivity, and Chinese hamsters 2.5 to 3 years. The smaller Roborovski hamster
Roborovski hamster
Roborovskis or desert hamsters are the smallest of all hamsters, averaging under an inch at birth, and three inches during adulthood...

 often lives to 2–3 years in captivity. Both golden and Russian hamsters mature quickly and can begin reproducing at a young age (4–5 weeks), whereas Chinese hamsters will usually begin reproducing at 2–3 months of age, and Roborovskis at 3–4 months of age.

Left to their own devices, hamsters will produce several litters a year with several pups in each litter. When seen from above, a sexually mature female hamster has a trim tail line; a male's tail line bulges on both sides. This might not be very visible in all species. Male hamsters typically have very large testes in relation to their body size. Before sexual maturity occurs at about 4–6 weeks, it is more difficult to determine a young hamster's sex. When examined, female hamsters have their anal and genital openings close together, whereas males have these two holes farther apart (the penis is usually withdrawn into the coat and thus appears as a hole or pink pimple).

It should also be noted that if a captive hamster is left for extended periods (3–4 weeks and more) with her litter, there is a high possibility that she will cannibalize the litter. It is therefore imperative that the litter be split up by the time the young can collect their own food and water.

Hamsters as pets

The best-known species of hamster is the Golden or Syrian Hamster
Golden Hamster
The golden hamster or Syrian hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, is a very well known member of the rodent subfamily Cricetinae, the hamsters. In the wild they are now considered vulnerable. Their numbers have been declining due to loss of habitat and deliberate destruction by humans. However, they are...

 (Mesocricetus auratus), which is the type of hamster most commonly kept as a pet
Pet
A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful...

. It is also sometimes called a "fancy" hamster. Pet stores also have taken to calling them "honey bears", "panda bears", "black bears", "European black bears", "polar bears", "teddy bears", and "Dalmatian", depending on their coloration. There are also several variations, including long-haired varieties that grow hair several centimeters long and often require special care. British zoologist Leonard Goodwin
Leonard Goodwin
Leonard George Goodwin CMG FRS was a British protozoologist noted for his work on testing the effectiveness of chemical compounds in treating tropical diseases. He was born in London to a shoe shop manager, and became interested in nature thanks to holidays spent with his grandfather, a...

 claimed that most hamsters kept in the United Kingdom were descended from the colony he introduced for medical research purposes during the Second World War.
Other hamsters that are kept as pets are the various species of "dwarf hamster
Dwarf hamster
Phodopus is a genus of rodent in the vole and hamster family Cricetidae. Its three species, together with most of those of genus Cricetulus, are known as "dwarf hamsters", because of their small size relative to other hamsters...

". Campbell's Dwarf Hamster
Campbell's dwarf hamster
Campbell's Russian dwarf hamster is a species of dwarf hamster. It was discovered by W.C. Campbell in 1902 in Tuva, an area that has historically been geographically linked with both China and Russia...

 (Phodopus campbelli) is the most common — they are also sometimes called "Russian Dwarfs"; however, many hamsters are from Russia, and so this ambiguous name does not distinguish them from other species appropriately. The coat of the Djungarian or Winter-white Russian Dwarf hamster (Phodopus sungorus) turns almost white during winter (when the hours of daylight decrease). The Roborovski hamster
Roborovski hamster
Roborovskis or desert hamsters are the smallest of all hamsters, averaging under an inch at birth, and three inches during adulthood...

 (Phodopus roborovskii) is extremely small and fast, making it difficult to keep as a pet. The Chinese Hamster
Chinese hamster
The Chinese hamster , is a species of hamster originating from the deserts of northern China and Mongolia.- Description :...

 (Cricetulus griseus), although not technically a true "dwarf hamster", is the only hamster with a prehensile tail (about 4 cm long)—most hamsters have very short, non-prehensile tails.

Many breeders also show
Show (animal)
A show is a judged event or display in the hobby of animal fancy or in the occupation of animal husbandry.Shows usually feature the best specimens of purebred animals in a locality or country...

 their hamsters and so breed towards producing a good healthy show hamster with a view to keeping one or two themselves so quality and temperament are of vital importance when planning the breeding. There are also owners who have bred their pet
Pet
A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful...

 hamsters. These may be the result of a planned or unplanned pregnancy but the hamsters have usually been cared for well and handled regularly, so make very suitable pets. Buying a hamster directly from a breeder means that there is the opportunity to see the parents and know the dates of birth.

Classification

Taxonomists generally disagree about the most appropriate placement of the subfamily Cricetinae within the superfamily Muroidea
Muroidea
Muroidea is a large superfamily of rodents. It includes hamsters, gerbils, true mice and rats, and many other relatives. They occupy a vast variety of habitats on every continent except Antarctica. Some authorities have placed all members of this group into a single family, Muridae, due to...

. Some place it in a family Cricetidae
Cricetidae
The Cricetidae are a family of rodents in the large and complex superfamily Muroidea. It includes true hamsters, voles, lemmings, and New World rats and mice...

 that also includes vole
Vole
A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars . There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America...

s, lemming
Lemming
Lemmings are small rodents, usually found in or near the Arctic, in tundra biomes. They are subniveal animals, and together with voles and muskrats, they make up the subfamily Arvicolinae , which forms part of the largest mammal radiation by far, the superfamily Muroidea, which also includes rats,...

s, and New World rats and mice
New World rats and mice
The New World rats and mice are a group of related rodents found in North and South America. They are extremely diverse in appearance and ecology, ranging in from the tiny Baiomys to the large Kunsia...

; others group all these into a large family called Muridae
Muridae
Muridae is the largest family of mammals. It contains over 600 species found naturally throughout Eurasia, Africa, and Australia. They have been introduced worldwide. The group includes true mice and rats, gerbils, and relatives....

. Their evolutionary history is recorded by 15 extinct fossil genera and extends back 11.2 million to 16.4 million years to the Middle Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 Epoch in Europe and North Africa; in Asia it extends 6 million to 11 million years. Four of the seven living genera include extinct species. One extinct hamster of Cricetus, for example, lived in North Africa during the Middle Miocene, but the only extant member of that genus is the European or Common Hamster of Eurasia.
  • Subfamily Cricetinae
    • Genus Allocricetulus
      Allocricetulus
      Allocricetulus is a genus of hamsters in the family Cricetidae, which are found in Asia.It contains the following two species:* Mongolian Hamster * Eversmann's Hamster -References:...

      • Species A. curtatus
        Mongolian Hamster
        The Mongolian Hamster is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae.It is found in China and Mongolia....

        —Mongolian Hamster
      • Species A. eversmanni
        Eversmann's Hamster
        Eversmann's Hamster is a species of hamster in the family Cricetidae.It is endemic to Kazakhstan....

        —Eversmann's or Kazakh Hamster
    • Genus Cansumys
      • Species C. canus
        Gansu Hamster
        The Gansu Hamster is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae, endemic to China. It is the only species in the genus Cansumys.-References:...

        —Gansu Hamster
    • Genus Cricetulus
      • Species C. alticola—Tibetan Dwarf or Ladak Hamster
      • Species C. barabensis
        Chinese Striped Hamster
        The Chinese striped hamster , also known as the striped dwarf hamster, is a species of hamster. It is distributed across Northern Asia, from southern Siberia through Mongolia and northeastern China to northern North Korea. An adult Chinese striped hamster weighs 16.7-31.0g, and has a body length...

        , including "C. pseudogriseus" and "C. obscurus"—Chinese Striped Hamster, also called Chinese Hamster; Striped Dwarf Hamster
      • Species C. griseus
        Chinese hamster
        The Chinese hamster , is a species of hamster originating from the deserts of northern China and Mongolia.- Description :...

        —Chinese (Dwarf) Hamster, also called Rat Hamster
      • Species C. kamensis—Kam Dwarf Hamster or Tibetan Hamster
      • Species C. longicaudatus—Long-tailed Dwarf Hamster
      • Species C. migratorius—Gray Dwarf Hamster, Armenian Hamster, Migratory Grey Hamster; Grey Hamster; Migratory Hamster
      • Species C. sokolovi—Sokolov's Dwarf Hamster
    • Genus Cricetus
      • Species C. cricetus
        European Hamster
        The European hamster, , also known as the black-bellied hamster or common hamster, is a hamster which is the only species of the genus Cricetus. It is native to a large global range, extending from western Europe, through central and eastern Europe, Russia, and Kazakhstan, reaching as far east as...

        —European Hamster, also called Common Hamster or Black-Bellied Field Hamster
    • Genus Mesocricetus
      Mesocricetus
      Mesocricetus is a genus of Old World hamsters, including the Golden hamster or Syrian hamster, the first hamster to be introduced as a domestic pet and still the most popular species for that purpose....

      —Golden Hamsters
      • Species M. auratus
        Golden Hamster
        The golden hamster or Syrian hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, is a very well known member of the rodent subfamily Cricetinae, the hamsters. In the wild they are now considered vulnerable. Their numbers have been declining due to loss of habitat and deliberate destruction by humans. However, they are...

        —Golden or Syrian Hamster
      • Species M. brandti
        Turkish Hamster
        The Turkish hamster , also referred to as Brandt’s Hamster, The Azerbaijani Hamster,or Avurtlak, is a species of hamster native to Turkey, Armenia and other surrounding nations...

        —Turkish hamster, also called Brandt
        Johann Friedrich von Brandt
        Johann Friedrich von Brandt was a German naturalist.Brandt was born in Jüterbog and educated at a gymnasium in Wittenberg and the University of Berlin. In 1831 he was appointed director of the Zoological Department at the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences, where he published in Russian...

        's Hamster; Azerbaijani Hamster
      • Species M. newtoni
        Romanian Hamster
        The Romanian hamster or Dobrudja hamster is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae. It is found in Bulgaria and Romania.-Description:...

        —Romanian Hamster
      • Species M. raddei
        Ciscaucasian Hamster
        The Ciscaucasian Hamster, is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae. It is also known as the Georgian hamster and is found only in Russia.-Distribution and habitat:...

        —Ciscaucasian Hamster
    • Genus Phodopus—Dwarf Hamsters
      • Species P. campbelli—Campbell's Dwarf Hamster
      • Species P. roborovskii
        Roborovski hamster
        Roborovskis or desert hamsters are the smallest of all hamsters, averaging under an inch at birth, and three inches during adulthood...

        —Roborovski Hamster
      • Species P. sungorus
        Djungarian hamster
        The Djungarian hamster , also known as the Siberian hamster or Russian winter white dwarf hamster, is a species of hamster in the genus Phodopus. It is ball-shaped and typically half the size of the Syrian hamster, and therefore called a dwarf hamster along with all Phodopus species...

        —Djungarian Hamster or Winter-white Russian Dwarf Hamster
    • Genus Tscherskia
      • Species T. triton
        Greater Long-tailed Hamster
        The Greater Long-tailed Hamster is a major crop-eating rodent that resides in Northern China. It is the only member of the genus Tscherskia. Some authorities maintain that the 15th gua of the Yi Jing refers repeatedly to this animal...

        —Greater Long-tailed Hamster, also called Korean Hamster

Relationships among hamster species

Neumann et al. (2006) conducted a molecular phylogenetic
Molecular phylogeny
Molecular phylogenetics is the analysis of hereditary molecular differences, mainly in DNA sequences, to gain information on an organism's evolutionary relationships. The result of a molecular phylogenetic analysis is expressed in a phylogenetic tree...

 analysis of 12 of the above 17 species of hamster using DNA sequence
DNA sequence
The sequence or primary structure of a nucleic acid is the composition of atoms that make up the nucleic acid and the chemical bonds that bond those atoms. Because nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, are unbranched polymers, this specification is equivalent to specifying the sequence of...

 from three gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

s: 12S rRNA, cytochrome b
Cytochrome b
Cytochrome b/b6 is the main subunit of transmembrane cytochrome bc1 and b6f complexes. In addition, it commonly refers to a region of mtDNA used for population genetics and phylogenetics.- Function :...

, and von Willebrand factor
Von Willebrand factor
von Willebrand factor is a blood glycoprotein involved in hemostasis. It is deficient or defective in von Willebrand disease and is involved in a large number of other diseases, including thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, Heyde's syndrome, and possibly hemolytic-uremic syndrome...

. They uncovered the following relationships:

Phodopus group
The genus Phodopus was found to represent the earliest split among hamsters. Their analysis included both species. The results of another study (Lebedev et al., 2003) may suggest that Cricetulus kamensis (and presumably the related C. alticola) might belong to either this Phodopus group or hold a similar basal position.

Mesocricetus group
The genus Mesocricetus also form a clade
Clade
A clade is a group consisting of a species and all its descendants. In the terms of biological systematics, a clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life". The idea that such a "natural group" of organisms should be grouped together and given a taxonomic name is central to biological...

. Their analysis included all four species, with M. auratus and M. raddei forming one subclade and M. brandti and M. newtoni another.

Remaining genera
The remaining genera of hamsters formed a third major clade. Two of the three sampled species within Cricetulus represent the earliest split. This clade contains Cricetulus barabensis (and presumably the related C. sokolovi) and Cricetulus longicaudatus.

Miscellaneous
The remaining clade contains members of Allocricetulus, Tscherskia, Cricetus, and Cricetulus migratorius. Allocricetulus and C were sister taxa. Cricetulus migratorius was their next closest relative, and Tscherskia was basal.

Early appearancess of the hamster in literature

Already in 1774, Friedrich Gabriel Sulzer, a companion of Johann-Wolfgang von Goethe, devoted a whole academic monography in the domain of social sciences and natural history to hamsters, entitled "An approach to a natural history of the hamster" ("Versuch einer Naturgeschichte des Hamsters"). In several instances he uses the hamster to document the equal rights of all beings, including homo sapiens.

Similar animals

Note that there are some rodents that are sometimes called "hamsters" that are not currently classified in the hamster subfamily Cricetinae. These include the maned hamster, or crested hamster, which is really the maned rat
Maned Rat
The maned rat , is a nocturnal, long-haired and bushy-tailed East African rodent that superficially resembles a porcupine.-Characteristics:...

 (Lophiomys imhausi). Others are the mouse-like hamster
Mouse-like hamster
thumb|200px|rightthumb|200px|right|Mouse-like hamster using its tail for balance while standing on a branch .Mouse-like hamsters are a group of small rodents found in Syria, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan...

s (Calomyscus spp.), and the white-tailed rat
White-tailed Rat
The white-tailed rat, Mystromys albicaudatus, also known as the white-tailed mouse, is the only member of the subfamily Mystromyinae in the family Nesomyidae...

 (Mystromys albicaudatus).

See also

  • Chinchilla
    Chinchilla
    Chinchillas are crepuscular rodents, slightly larger and more robust than ground squirrels, and are native to the Andes mountains in South America. Along with their relatives, viscachas, they make up the family Chinchillidae....

  • Gerbil
    Gerbil
    A gerbil is a small mammal of the order Rodentia. Once known simply as "desert rats", the gerbil subfamily includes about 110 species of African, Indian, and Asian rodents, including sand rats and jirds, all of which are adapted to arid habitats...

  • Guinea pig
    Guinea pig
    The guinea pig , also called the cavy, is a species of rodent belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Despite their common name, these animals are not in the pig family, nor are they from Guinea...

  • Hampster Dance
  • Hamster racing
    Hamster racing
    Hamster racing is a sport in which hamsters are placed in hamster wheels or hamster balls – often fitted to miniature racing vehicles – and raced down a straight 9 meter course. The hamster crossing the finish line in the shortest amount of time wins...

  • Hamtaro
    Hamtaro
    is a Japanese anime series. The main character is a hamster named Hamtaro who has a variety of adventures with other hamsters, called "Ham-Hams" . The show is based on a manga series by Ritsuko Kawai, Hamtaro Gets Lost and Other Stories, and Jealous Hamtaro and Other Stories...

  • Rat
    Rat
    Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus...

  • Tales of the Riverbank
    Tales of the Riverbank
    Tales of the Riverbank, sometimes called Hammy Hamster, is a Canadian children's television show starring Hammy Hamster and other animals....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK