Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens
AG Säugetierkunde in NRW
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The European Hamster is one of the most colourful mammals in Europe. The guinea pig-sized rodent prefers to live in grain fields in regions with deep, not too wet loess and clay soils. It spends the majority of its life as a solitary species in self-excavated deep and branched burrows with nesting and storage chambers.
Characteristic features of the burrows are the vertical, round drop tunnels, as thick as a man′s arm, and inclined escape tunnels. The crepuscular and nocturnal omnivore carries its main food (field plants of all kinds) into the burrow in its cheek pouches; aside from that, small animals (earthworms, insects...) are eaten. Starting in July they gather winter storage supplies, especially grains. This perhaps best-known characteristic of the hamster has coined the popular German term "hamstern". During the 6-months of hibernation, about 1 - 2 kg of storage supplies are needed by a single animal. Past reports of sensational storage amounts of 50-60 kg, even at the time, were the absolute exception. The European Hamster in NRW is an index species of the fertile open "Börde"-Landscape of the Rhineland (Cologne Bay area). Here the species can find the soils necessary for the construction of its burrows.
Until 1990, large parts of the Rhineland between Düsseldorf, Cologne/Bonn and Aachen were populated by the European Hamster, although since the 1960/70s increasingly fewer. The structural change in agriculture in the 20th century brought a deterioration of the food supply and a reduction of cover in the fields for the hamster. Additionally, rodenticide use and extensive habitat losses in the area of distribution began to occur. Since the 1970s, the hamster population in NRW has declined so much that the species, once regionally pursued as a pest, is currently threatened with extinction. For the last years, there are only records from the area of a single topographic sheet.
Dietlind Geiger-Roswora und Ute Köhler
Geiger-Roswora D, Köhler U (2023): Feldhamster (Cricetus cricetus).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2023/03/27
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