The Common Hamster is a fascinating species that differs from other hibernating small mammals in several aspects. Females have up to three litters per season and under favourable conditions both males and females can reproduce in their first year. The ability to cache food changes the need for fattening prior to hibernation and consequently can alter the pattern of reproductive activity. The Common Hamster has lived in agricultural areas in close association with humans for centuries. During the last few decades, the loss of suitable habitats and modern technologies in agriculture have brought the species close to extinction in many areas. It has thus been listed as a highly threatened species in several European countries. Conservation plans require detailed knowledge on the biology of the species and a hamster-friendly management scheme in agricultural areas.
In this volume, contributions of the 13th Meeting of the International Hamster workgroup have been summarized. Studies investigating burrow architecture, population dynamics, predation pressure, life span and reproductive activity underline the environmental flexibility of the species. The results of conservation programs are presented and discussed. Reports of breeding regimes with selected light-dark-cycles that can be used to optimize reproductive output and may benefit reintroduction projects have also been included. Generally the presented results should help broaden our knowledge about the Common Hamster and promote international networks to plan, implement, coordinate and evaluate management programs.