Hamster Morphology – Hamster Characteristics

Body hamster covered with thick and soft fur ; the skin is firm and very elastic. The male and female have a similar appearance (although there is a slight difference in size between them in some species), except, of course, for the external genitalia.

paws quite short; the anterior ones have four toes (a large, clean rudiment consisting of a tiny appendage), while the posterior ones have five; all fingers have claws. When he wants to look around and inspect his surroundings, the hamster stands up on its hind legs. The forepaws ultimately serve to grab food to bring it to the mouth and also help clean the coat.

Whiskers for detecting obstacles

in muzzle has long whiskers that move constantly when the small rodent sniffs the air, and which is an extremely useful tactile organ for detecting obstacles when the animal moves in the dark.

highly developedsmell allows you to both look for food, stay away from enemies, and, in the case of a male, find a female ready to mate.

eyes small, round and especially conspicuous. Hamsters have poorly developed eyesight: they are really nocturnal animals, whose activity is mainly based on smell and hearing.

Thin and delicate, the ears are covered with fine fluff. Due to their very sensitive hearing, hamsters in captivity do not tolerate noise and loud sounds.

Long and sharp incisors (two upper and two lower) serve not only for food, but also for self-defense: after all, they are able, if necessary, to inflict deep and painful bites. They take on a yellowish color, which should not be taken as a sign of poor hygiene or illness. The incisors grow continuously throughout the animal’s life and must be maintained at the correct length through constant wear and tear. Because of this characteristic, hamster incisors, like all rodents, are referred to as “open root canals”.

The rest of the teeth are made up of molars (three upper and three lower on each side) “with a closed root canal”, as far as they are concerned: this means that, like our teeth, as soon as they come out, their growth stops. While we can easily observe the incisors by spreading the lips of a hamster, the molars, located deeper inside the oral cavity, however, are not directly distinguishable. An edentulous space called a diastema separates the incisors from the molars. Both incisors and molars begin to erupt from birth.

Carrying food with cheek pouches

cheek pouches probably a hallmark of hamsters. They consist of a protrusion of the inner lining of the cheeks that forms an expanding sac used to store food and nesting materials that the hamster gathers during its nocturnal expeditions to then transport to its burrow.

Empty, cheek pouches go unnoticed; full, they become, on the other hand, perfectly visible and extend along the sides of the animal, giving it a comical appearance. Back in the burrow, the hamster empties its cheek pouches with its front paws. Food that is too large to be inserted into the cheek pouches is transported by the mouth, grasping them with the help of incisors.

Deprived sweat glandsTherefore, hamsters cannot sweat and are extremely sensitive to high temperatures, which they cannot fight and which quickly expose them to heatstroke. When the ambient temperature drops below 5 ° C, golden hamsters fall into a state of torpor, similar to lethargy, from which they occasionally come out to eat.

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