Monday, October 3, 2011

Syrian Hamster

Mesocricetus auratus
Today's animal may look familiar, as they are one of the most popular small animals kept as pets. But did you know that in the wild Syrian Hamsters are becoming quite rare?

Syrian Hamsters were first identified in the early 19th century, and were first utilized as lab animals due to their ability to breed more readily. In fact, it is believed that all captive Hamsters in North America are descended from one litter that was captured and used for research in the 1930s.

In the 1940s Syrian Hamsters entered the pet world, and there are now over 40 varieties. They come in long and short haired versions, and in a massive number of color combinations. They are the most common hamsters kept as pets.

So is Syrian Hamsters are so popular as pets, why are they so Vulnerable in the wild? There are actually a numbers of factors. The first is that their range is very small. Less than 7,500 square miles (around 20,000 square km). Secondly, they are losing that small area to habitat encroachment. And third, they are considered to be agricultural pests, and are often baited by farmers. There are currently no conservation measures taking place throughout their native range.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Syria
Size : Body Length up to 6in (15.5cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Rodentia
Family : Cricetidae -- Genus : Mesocricetus -- Species : M. auratus

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