Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Mesocricetus brandti (NEHRING, 1898) - Turkish hamster

The Turkish hamster is the closest relative of the well-known Golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus). It is about 17 centimetres long with a weight of around 130 grams.  The species lives in Turkey, in Iraq and in Israel. The Turkish hamster is a typical inhabitant of steppes where it builds simple burrows. It feeds on seeds and crops. Only very little data from natural habitats is available. The majority of our knowledge of this species comes from laboratory research. Animals were exported from turkey to the United States in 1965.

We study reproduction, activity rhythms, and behaviour of this species. Further investigations concerning the distribution and ecology of the Turkish hamster should follow in a Turkish-German research project together with zoologists from the University of Ankara. A further point is the clarification of the species status in the genus Mesocricetus using modern molecular techniques.