H., I. Zagorodniuk. 2021. The European hamster (Cricetus
cricetus) in captivity: keeping and breeding experience.
Theriologia Ukrainica, 21: 152–164.
hamster (Cricetus cricetus) in captivity:
keeping and breeding experience
Halyna Stanytsina (https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1700-7220),
Igor Zagorodniuk (https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0523-133X)
Institute of archeology,
NAS of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine)
National Museum of Natural History, NAS Ukraine
2021. Vol. 21: 152–164.
Ukrainian, with English summary,
titles of tables, captures to figs
have long been considered agricultural pests and
their abundance has been controlled. Now in many
countries they are recognized as rare and endangered
species that are at a risk of extinction. Among
conservation measures to preserve and restore the
population of many species is to gain experience
in their keeping and reproduction in captivity.
The experiments were carried out with hamsters obtained
from the Crimea at different times. The keeping
experience of hamsters in an ordinary residential
apartment and the specifics of domestication of
the animals caught in the nature are described.
Their captivity, cage arrangement, nutrition, reproduction,
specifics of communication, seasonal and circadian
rhythms, territorial behaviour, threats and factors
influencing their well-being are described in detail.
Practice has shown that these are friendly and interacting
animals to kee at home, and their breeding as pets
is promising. Even adults caught in a trap get used
to people in 2–4 weeks, take food from hands, go
to the cage door when they are called, remember
their nickname, calmly walk on the hands and do
not bite at all, even when their babies are taken
to the hands. Although hamsters are nocturnal in
the nature, they are often active during the day
at home. They do not hibernate and are active all-year-round,
and even breed in winter. Hamsters are highly sensitive
to overheating and draft; both are harmful to them
and lead to death. In the evenings, while walking
around the room hamsters do not run away and do
not hide; the cage is considered their territory,
safe, and cosy. Therefore, after walks, they go
to the cages themselves or ask to be placed in the
cage. Quickly master the treadmill and run in it
for hours. Hamsters are very different by their
individual behaviour and preferences. The purpose
of keeping hamsters in captivity is to introduce
the species as pets and to form so-called ‘reserve
populations’ to restore populations of the species
in the wild. Being among the pets, this species
will be preserved in the culture and will be able
to be released in places where their existence would
be desirable. Based on the experience gained from
keeping hamsters in captivity, steps to form "wild"
behaviour are recommended. The formation of artificial
breeding groups, which together form a reserve population,
is an important measure in restoration programmes
of natural populations of Cricetus cricetus.
hamster, taming, keeping
in captivity, ex situ conservation, behaviour, breeding
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