As part of the eco-initiative "Hamster, ground squirrel and flying squirrel: save the super rodents! public organization APB searches for inhabited burrows of the common hamster as evidence that these animals still live in Belarus.
Once this species was quite common, but in Soviet times, hamsters were fought as field pests. And as a result of mass extermination, the number of animals has decreased to such an extent that in 2005 they were on the pages of the national Red Book.
At the global level, too, not everything is smooth. According to the updated IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) lists published in July, common hamster is on the verge of extinction. Why this happened, biologists have no exact answer. There may be a number of negative influences, such as global warming, environmental degradation, all kinds of pollution.
If the situation does not change, then after 30 years this rodent can only be seen in the pictures. Prior to the eco-initiative, the APB did not have reliable facts about encounters with wild hamsters on the territory of our country at the present time. Later, photographic evidence was collected that in 2015 this animal was still found in the Kamenetsky district, and in 2019 - in Berezovsky. Conversations with local residents, who describe in detail the meetings with wild hamsters, indicate that rodents may still be preserved in the Kobrin and Zhabinka districts. In the Dobrush region, this animal is also known, but the last sightings with it were recorded several years ago.
However, no residential hamster burrows have yet been found. Therefore, a reward of 500 rubles was announced for those who find such a habitat on the territory of Belarus before the end of the year.
How to recognize the hole of an ordinary hamster?
Hamsters settle at the borders of agricultural fields, on roadsides, gardens and kitchen gardens are suitable for them. Burrows are large and deep, with a vertical or inclined entrance 7-10 cm in diameter, there is always a lot of discarded earth nearby.
The appearance and lifestyle of an ordinary hamster
This is a fairly large rodent up to 35 cm in length and weighing an average of about 300 grams. He has a dense physique, the coat is short, thick and soft, a small tail. The red color of different shades, the body from below is always black, and there are white spots on the head, neck and paws.
The lifestyle of wild hamsters is nocturnal, but in spring and autumn they are active during the day. They feed on various seeds of cereals, legumes, weeds, insects, lizards, small rodents, and chicks are included in their menu. In winter, they hibernate, periodically waking up to refresh themselves with supplies collected in the summer. Ordinary hamsters live up to 10 years. They breed in spring and summer, pregnancy lasts 20 days, from 3 to 12 cubs are born.
Wild hamsters are not at all like their relatives living at home. They are quite aggressive.
The natural enemies of the hamster include crows, owls and tawny owls, kestrel, marten, black ferret and fox, as well as stray dogs and cats.
Where to report if you find the habitat of an ordinary hamster? Send to email address email@example.com letter marked "Hamster". Attach a photo of the animal / its hole to it, placing some object near it for scale, for example, a mobile phone, and also describe the area and explain on what basis you determined that this is a hamster (hamster hole). Don't forget to write your phone number.
Then, with the help of an automatic camera, APB specialists will photograph the inhabitant of the hole, and if he turns out to be a wanted rodent, you will receive a reward.
The offer is limited, the reward will be paid only for the first four holes found.
Perhaps this is the last chance to save the common hamster so that our descendants can see it.
text: Ekaterina Golubnicchaya