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Cricetus cricetus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA CRICETIDAE

Scientific Name: Cricetus cricetus
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Black-bellied Hamster, Common Hamster
French Grand Hamster
Spanish Hámster Común
Taxonomic Notes: Populations west of the River Rhine are recognized as a separate subspecies (canescens) (Weinhold 1999).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Kryštufek, B., Vohralík, V., Meinig, H. & Zagorodnyuk, I.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
The common hamster has declined in almost all European range states (with the exception of Russia and Ukraine), with very severe declines and local extirpations having occurred in some countries. However, the species remains abundant in some areas in the eastern part of its range, and at the global level it is not thought that declines approach the threshold of 30% over 10 years (or 3 generations) needed to qualify as Vulnerable according to criterion A of the IUCN Red List. This species has a very wide range and is considered Least Concern at the global level.
History:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Cricetus cricetus has a large global range, extending from western Europe, through central and eastern Europe, Russia, and Kazakhstan, reaching as far east as the Yenisey river (Asian Russia). In Europe, it occurs from Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France in the west to Russia in the east, and from northern Germany, Poland and Russia in the north to Bulgaria in the south (Panteleyev 1998, Weinhold 1999). It is found from sea level to 650 m (Nechay 2000).
Countries:
Native:
Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bulgaria; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; France; Georgia; Germany; Hungary; Kazakhstan; Netherlands; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Slovakia; Slovenia; Ukraine
Regionally extinct:
Luxembourg
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It has undergone severe range and population declines in western and central Europe, and it now has a highly fragmented distribution in these areas. Subpopulation extinctions have occurred in a number of countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. Less is known about the status of the species in eastern Europe and Russia, but it is certainly more abundant there than in the west. Spring population densities of 0.5-3 individuals per hectare are reported in western Europe (Weinhold 1999), whereas densities of 3.4-37 occupied burrows per hectare have been recorded in Hungary (Nechay 2000). In Ukraine the species is considered abundant (I. Zagorodnyuk pers. comm. 2006). In areas where the species is abundant, periodic population outbreaks occur (Nechay 2000).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Its original habitat was fertile steppe and grassland, but it has successfully spread into a variety of anthropogenic habitats including meadows, croplands (especially cereals), and field edges, road verges and scrubby fallow areas on farms. In eastern parts of its range it is found quite often in gardens and orchards, in close proximity to human habitation. It is more abundant in these man-made habitats than it is in natural grassland. It prefers relatively deep, heavy soils, in which it digs extensive burrows. Its diet mainly consists of the green parts of plants and seeds, supplemented by invertebrates and, occasionally, small vertebrates. At high densities, it can be an agricultural pest (Nechay 2000).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Its decline in western Europe has been attributed to a combination of persecution and agricultural intensification. It was trapped and poisoned to prevent damage to crops, and this practice continues in some parts of the hamster's range (although not in the western part of its range). In eastern Europe it continues to be trapped for the fur trade. Agricultural intensification, specifically the loss of perennial crops and small uncultivated patches of land, the introduction of autumn-sown cereals, and the increased use of pesticides, has had a negative impact on many hamster populations. Changing agricultural practices in eastern Europe, where the hamster population has traditionally been considered stable, may pose a threat in the future.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention and Annex IV of the EU Habitats and Species Directive. Specific conservation recommendations to improve the status of the species in western Europe are detailed in Stubbe and Stubbe (1998) and Nechay (2000). These focus on subsidising farmers to manage agricultural habitats appropriately, and minimising use of pesticides. In the last few years, reintroductions have been carried out in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Monitoring is required in eastern range states to determine population trends.

Citation: Kryštufek, B., Vohralík, V., Meinig, H. & Zagorodnyuk, I. 2008. Cricetus cricetus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 July 2014.
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