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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Distributed in dry steppes and semi-deserts of SW Siberia, E Kazakhstan, and in one isolated area in Khakassia (Russia).
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Geographic Range

The dwarf or Dzungarian hamster is found throughout Mongolia, Russia, and adjacent parts of Siberia and Manchuria.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Coloration of Dzungarian hamsters ranges from gray to pinkish buff dorsally and whitish on the underparts (Nowak, 1991). Some individuals have a dark dorsal stripe. The ears are dark blackish, edged and lined with white. During the winter months the fur turns partly white. As a result of having been bred and sold as domestic pets, these hamsters have given rise to a number of mutations in coat color. Three color mutations are commonly recognized: albino, argente, and opal; and two pattern mutations, mottled and platinum.

The Dzungarian hamster has a rounded robust body and short broad feet, covered with thick fur throughout. They also have dark eyes, long whiskers, sharp claws, and cheek pouches. Head and body length is 7-10.5cm while the tail length is 0.6-1.8cm. As in all rodents, one upper and one lower incisor are found on each side of the jaw. Canines and premolars are always absent, and there are no more than three lophodont cheek teeth on either side. (Macdonald 1984, Hill 1997)

Average mass: 23.4 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 0.313 W.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Inhabits dry plane and mountain steppes, including sandy, solty and rubbly ones. Solitary. Burrows have multiple passages with one or two cells. Wintering nest can be up to 1 m below the ground. Often uses other rodents' burrows, sometimes lives very close to other species. Does not hibernate. Feeds on seeds, insects and larvae. In winter accumulates a large amount of hypodermic fat that helps them to survive freezing temperatures. Reproduce during warm time of the year, sometimes in winter too. From April to September has 5-6 litters (in Kazakhstan), with 4-11 young in each. Young start to reproduce when their weight is about 20 g.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The Dzungarian hamster inhabits semi-arid areas. It usually prefers grassy plains, sand dunes, or wormwood steppes. (Nowak 1991)

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The Dzungarian hamster is mainly herbivorous and granivorous. Normally it eats seeds and any available plant material. As the dwarf hamster forages, it pushes food into the huge cheek pouches, which enable it to carry large quantities of food to its underground quarters. (Macdonald 1984)

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
3.2 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
3.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 3.9 years (captivity) Observations: One captive specimen lived 3.9 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

The Dzungarian hamster breeds from February to November. It is known to breed only once or occasionally twice a year in the wild, but it can breed more than that in captivity. In the wild, males and females meet only to copulate, then separate permanently. The gestation period is typically 20-22 days, but can be as short as 18-19 days. Litter size is usually between 5 and 12. The young are born blind and hairless, weighing approximately 1.4 grams. They are cared for by the mother alone, and they are weaned after a month or so. The young become sexually mature soon after weaning, or at a couple of months age, which helps to give this species an impressive capacity for reproduction. (Macdonald 1984, Nowak 1991, Parker 1990)

Average birth mass: 2 g.

Average gestation period: 20 days.

Average number of offspring: 5.5.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
120 days.

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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Photoperiod affects immune response: Siberian hamster
 

Macrophages in Siberian hamsters respond differently to pathogens depending on the photoperiod via an upregulation mechanism.

   
  "Defense against pathogens is a critical component of comparative and ecological biology. However, pathogen recognition, a process necessary for the facilitation of systemic immune response, remains understudied in a comparative context, yet could provide insight into how the immune system interacts with pathogens in variable environments. We examined pathogen recognition by macrophages in relation to an ecological variable, day length, in Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus). Because peritoneal macrophages collected in long, summer-like day lengths are more responsive to a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge compared to macrophages collected during short, winter-like day lengths, we hypothesized that these functional differences are mediated by variation in pathogen recognition, which occurs through binding to Toll-like receptors (TLRs). We predicted that expression of TLR2 and 4, the receptors that bind and respond specifically to LPS, would be upregulated in long vs. short days, and that expression of these receptors would reflect macrophage responsiveness to LPS. Macrophages collected during long days were again more responsive to LPS challenge compared to short-day macrophages; however, TLR2 and TLR4 expression was similar between photoperiods and were unrelated to our measure of macrophage responsiveness suggesting that other downstream intracellular mechanisms may be responsible for photoperiod-based variation in macrophage responsiveness in this species." (Navara et al. 2007:354)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Navara, Kristen J.; Trainor, Brian C.; Nelson, Randy J. 2007. Photoperiod alters macrophage responsiveness, but not expression of Toll-like receptors in Siberian hamsters. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology. 148(2): 354-359.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Phodopus sungorus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Tsytsulina, K.

Reviewer/s
Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
A widespread species with no known major threats, hence listed as Least Concern.

History
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/least concern
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
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---

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
Precise data are unavailable. Population size fluctuations are significant. In some areas abundant and is a crop pest.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Unknown. Habitat degradation may decrease the area of occupancy.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Species occurs in some protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Dzungarian hamsters are considered serious pests to agriculture in some areas. (Macdonald 1984)

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Dzungarian hamsters make good pets (Parker 1990).

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Wikipedia

Djungarian hamster

The Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus), also known as the Siberian hamster, Siberian dwarf hamster or Russian winter white dwarf hamster, is one of three 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. Features of the Djungarian hamster include a typically thick, dark grey dorsal stripe and furry feet. As winter approaches and the days shorten, the Djungarian hamster's dark fur is almost entirely replaced with white fur. In captivity, this does not always happen. In the wild, they originate from Dzungaria, the wheat fields of Kazakhstan, the meadows of Mongolia, Siberia, and the birch stands of Manchuria.

Djungarian hamsters are common as pets in Europe and North America, and exhibit greater variance in their coats than those found in the wild. They reproduce often—more so than Syrian hamsters—and, as they have no fixed breeding season, can continue to produce large amounts of offspring all year round. Young pups will act aggressively to one another; whilst breeding females may show similar aggression to males.

Physical description[edit]

Normal colouration
Pearl colouration
Sapphire colouration

The coat of the Djungarian hamster is less woolly than that of the Campbell's dwarf hamster,[2] and apart from the normal colouring, they can be coloured sapphire, sapphire pearl, or normal pearl. The head length of the Djungarian hamster is 70 to 90 millimetres in length, the length of the tail is five to 15 millimetres, and the hind legs are 11 to 15 millimetres.[3][4] The body weight changes dramatically throughout the year. It is at its lowest during the winter months.[5] In males, the body weight ranges from 19 grams (0.67 oz) to 45 grams (1.6 oz), and in females, 19 grams (0.67 oz) to 36 grams (1.3 oz).[4] In human care, they are slightly heavier. The average lifespan of the Djungarian hamster is one to three years of age in captivity, though they can live longer. In the wild, they are known to live as little as one year.[2]

In summer, the fur of the Djungarian hamster on the back changes from ash-grey to dark brown, or sometimes pale brown with a tint.[6] The face changes to grey or brown, while the mouth area, the whisker area and the ears are slightly brighter.[7] The outer ears and the eyes have black edges. The rest of the head is dark brown or black. From the head to the tail runs a black-brown dorsal stripe.[8] The throat, belly, tail and limbs are white.[7] The ears are grey with a pinkish tint[6] with scattered black hairs. The hairs on the underside are completely white.[9][10] The bright coat the bottom extends to the shoulders, flanks and hips in three arches upward. It is distinguished from the darker fur on the top of the existing black-brown hair, three curved line.[4]

Apart from the typical colouration, Djungarian hamsters can also be coloured pearl, sapphire, sapphire pearl and marbled. Other colorations are available, but these are strongly suspected to appear only in hybrid crossings with Campbell Dwarf hamsters. Some of these colorations are mandarin, blue, argente, yellow blue fawn, camel, brown, cream, merle and umbrous.[2]

In the winter, the fur is more dense.[11] They sometimes have a grey tint on their head.[12] More than ten percent of the hamsters kept in the first winter develop the summer coat. In the second winter, only a few change into the winter coat and winter colour is less pronounced. The moulting in the winter fur starts in October or November and is completed in December, while the summer coat begins in January or February and is completed in March or early April.[7] The ears are grey with a pinkish tint.[2] Moulting both run jobs on the head and the back of the spine to the sides, the legs and the underside.[13] The hairs grow longer in the summer, to about ten millimetres long.[6]

The pigmentation of hair is controlled by the hormone prolactin and colour genetics.[14] Day length must be less than fourteen hours to initiate the change to winter coat. The change to the winter coat can be triggered in the summer by the short day lengths. The change occurs back to the summer coat in the autumn, when the length of the days change again. At internal temperatures hamsters in captivity start later with the changes. The winter colour is less pronounced in them.[7] The eyes of the Djungarian hamster are black, unless it is albino in which case they are red.[6]

In the wild[edit]

Peter Simon Pallas named the Djungarian hamster in 1773 as Mouse sungorus.

In the wild, the Djungarian hamster's fur changes colour in the winter. This adaptation helps them to evade predators in the snow-covered steppes of winter.[2] The Djungarian hamster digs tunnels one metre deep leading to ground burrows where they can sleep, raise their young and hide from predators.[6] The weasel is one of the Djungarian hamsters main predators.[4] Most of these burrows have six entrances. In the summer time, the burrows are lined with moss. To keep the burrow warm in the winter, the Djungarian hamster closes all but one entrance and lines the burrows with animal fur or wool that it finds. The temperature inside the burrow is usually 16.7 °C (62.1 °F).[2] Djungarian hamsters sometimes live in the semi-deserts in Central Asia.[15] They also live in the dry steppes and wheat or alfalfa fields as well as on small fields in the forests of the region around Minusinsk.[16] The fur on the Djungarian hamster's feet protect the feet from the cold ground from in the cold climates in the wild.[2] The population density is highly varied.[15] In 1968, the first four examples of the Djungarian hamster were caught in Western Siberia and brought to the Max Planck Institute in Germany.[6]

Systematics[edit]

The Djungarian hamster is a species of Phodopus. The Campbell's Dwarf Hamster is named as a separate species within the Phodopus sungorus species with respect to subspecies. Other subspecies are not distinguished. The Djungarian hamster was described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1773 as a mouse.[17] The species name sungorus derives from the Dsungaria.[18] In 1778, Pallas renamed the Djungarian hamster to mouse songarus.[19] Ned Hollister ordered the Djungarian hamster in 1912 to the genus Phodopus.[20] A. I. Argiropulo, in 1933, changed the name to priority sungorus[21] and united the Djungarian hamster as a subspecies of Phodopus sungorus sungorus with the Campbell's Dwarf Hamster.[22]

Pet ownership[edit]

Djungarian hamsters are often found on the pet market in Europe and North America.[2] Care of the Djungarian hamster is similar to all other species of Phodopus.[23] Djungarian hamsters, along with most rodents, are prone to tumours. They can also receive injury in the cheek pouch by sharp objects damaging the fragile inner lining. Other health problems include bite wounds, broken teeth, constipation, dehydration, dental malocclusion, diarrhea and ear problems.[24] The Djungarian hamster is easy to tame. In addition to natural colourings in the wild, ("ruddy" or "agouti") Djungarian hamsters in captivity come in a variety of different colours.

Breeding[edit]

Djungarian hamsters reproduce at a faster rate than Syrian hamsters.[24][25] Phodopus are able to become pregnant again on the same day that they have given birth. This can all happen within a thirty-six day period. This is done as a survival strategy to produce large numbers of offspring in a short period of time. This places tremendous demands on the mother.[24] Research suggests biparental care in Campbell's hamsters (Phodopus campbelli) but not in Djungarian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus).[26] Frequent fighting can occur between the pups and as soon as they are weaned from their mother, they are separated from their mother. They should not be separated from their mother before three weeks of age. Most Djungarian hamster dwarf hamsters grow to 3 to 4" long. Djungarian hamsters breed all year round as there is no specific breeding season.[6]

During the breeding time, the Djungarian hamster may become aggressive. After mating, the female may want to attack the male to protect her babies. The male will usually hide in holes or caves to escape from the vicious bite of the female Djungarian hamster.[27] The Djungarian hamster's estrous cycle lasts four days, this means every four days, the female may accept the male back to breed again. This usually occurs when the darkness of the evening sets in. If a male and female Djungarian hamster are not housed together from a young age, it is difficult to tell if the female is willing to breed with the male.[2]

Hybrids[edit]

Of the five species kept commonly as pets, only the Campbell's dwarf hamster and Djungarian hamsters are able to interbreed and produce live offspring or hybrids. Although hybrids make suitable pets, the breeding of hybrids and cloning can cause health and reproduction problems. In addition, the widespread breeding and distribution of hybrids could threaten the existence of both pure species and subspecies of the ecosystem, resulting in only mongrels. Hybridizing causes each litter to become smaller and the young begin to form congenital problems.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tsytsulina, K. (2008). Phodopus sungorus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 14 Jule 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Dwarf Hamster: A Guide to Selection, Housing, Care, Nutrition, Behaviour, Health, Breeding, Species and Colours (About Pets) ISBN 978-1-85279-210-7
  3. ^ Winogradow und Argiropulo 1941. Zitiert in: Ross 1998 (S. 1, „General Characters“)
  4. ^ a b c d Krylzow und Schubin 1964. Zitiert in: Ross 1998 (S. 1, „General Characters“).
  5. ^ Bartness & Wade, 1985. Photoperiodic control of seasonal body weight cycles in hamsters (Abstract)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g How to Care for Your Dwarf Hamster (Your first...series) ISBN 1-85279-150-0
  7. ^ a b c d Figala und Mitarbeiter 1973 (Abstract). Die Angaben beziehen sich auf unter natürlichen Bedingungen gehaltene Hamster.
  8. ^ Ross, Patricia (1992). On activity and behavior of three taxa of dwarf hamsters of the genus' Phodopus Miller, 1910. Plant Journal of Mammalogy. pp. 65–76.  Dissertation Quoted in Ross 1998 (p. 1, Diagnosis, General Characters "
  9. ^ Hamann, U. (1987). The Red Book of Varieties and Schemes. Lecture notes in mathematics 1358.  Quoted in Ross 1998 (p. 1, "Context and Content" of the genre, "Diagnosis "
  10. ^ Logsdail, Chris (2005). Hamsterlopaedia. A Complete Guide to Hamster Care. Ringpress Books. p. 174. ISBN 1-86054-246-8. 
  11. ^ Honey, Sandra (2005). Dwarf hamsters. Biology. Attitude. Breeding. 2nd. Nature-and animal-Verlag. pp. 9, 56–58. 
  12. ^ Pallas 1773rd Quoted in Ross 1998 (p. 1, General Characters ").
  13. ^ Zdenek, Veselovský (1964). Contribution to knowledge of Dzungars-Hamsters, Phodopus sungorus (Pallas, 1773). Journal of Mammalogy. pp. 305–311.  Quoted in Ross 1998 (p. 1-2, " form ")
  14. ^ Duncan, Marilyn (1984). Hormonal regulation of the annual pelage color cycle in the Djungarian hamster, Phodopus sungorus. I. Role of the gonads and the pituitary. Anthology The Journal of Experimental Zoology. pp. 89–95. 
  15. ^ a b Boris Stepanovich Yudin, Lijana Ivanova Galkina, Antonina Fedorovna Potapkina 1979 Quoted in Ross 1998 (p. 5, "Ecology ").
  16. ^ M. N. Meier 1967 Peculiarities of the reproduction and development of‘‘Phodopus’’ sungorus Pallasof different geographic populations] Volume 46 Russian Cited In: Ross 1998 (p. 5, "Ecology"). The figures refer to the area of Minusinsk.
  17. ^ Sungorus Pallas 1773 (p. 703) . Quoted in:. Ross 1998 (p. 1, synonymy of the species)
  18. ^ Steinlechner 1998, DJUNGARIAN HAMSTER AND/OR SIBERIAN HAMSTER: WHO IS WHO?, European Pineal Society NEWS (p. 8).
  19. ^ Peter Simon Pallas 1778 quadrupedum species novae e ordine glirium p. 269 Quoted in Ross 1998 (p. 1, synonymy of the species)
  20. ^ Ned Hollister 1912 New mammals from the highlands of Siberia Quoted in:. Ross 1998 (p. 1, synonymy of the species)
  21. ^ Argiropulo 1933rd Quoted in:. Ross 1998 (p. 1, synonymy of the species)
  22. ^ Argiropulo 1933 (p. 136). Quoted in Ross 1998 (p. 6, "Remarks ").
  23. ^ "Siberian Hamster". Siberian Hamster. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  24. ^ a b c Dwarf Hamsters: Everything about Purchase, Care, Nutrition, and Behavior (Barron's Complete Pet Owner's Manuals) ISBN 0-7641-4096-5
  25. ^ Breeding hamsters - how to breed hamsters "Syrian". Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  26. ^ Research by Dr. Katherine Wynne-Edwards at Queen's University, Ontario, Canada
  27. ^ Sandra Honey: Dwarf hamsters. Biology. Attitude. Breeding. 2nd Edition. Nature and animal-Verlag, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-931587-96-7
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