Seasonal Changes in Burrowing of the Common Hamster (Cricetus cricetus L., 1758) (Rodentia: Cricetidae) in the City


The Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) has been intensively colonizing cities during the last decades. Changes in the burrow numbers and their distribution over an area might be important indicators of the population status for the Common hamster in an urban environment. In this study, we consider the character of the burrow distribution on the experimental plot (2.2 ha) situated in the park of Simferopol City, Russian Federation. The brushwood and tree vegetation on this plot had been previously mapped in detail. Hamster burrows were put on the map once a quarter during a year. The peak of burrowing activity is shown to be in November. Interestingly, the ground activity of hamsters continued even in the coldest month (January) of the year but the number of used burrows was very low. The squares where both trees and burrows were present (by average annual indicators) was met significantly more frequently than burrows in the tree-free squares (P = 0.02; χ2 = 5.2) but this was not the case for the winter and spring seasons. We assume that the connection of burrows with arboreous vegetation facilitates digging, ensures better protection from predators and is a food source. All these factors ensure favorable conditions for the high abundance of the Common hamster in the urban environment.


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