Get access

Behavioural and endocrinological changes in Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) under domestication

Authors

  • S. Krause,

    1. Faculty of Natural Science III, Institute of Agriculture and Nutrition science, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Dresden, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • L. Schüler

    1. Faculty of Natural Science III, Institute of Agriculture and Nutrition science, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Dresden, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author

Sabine Krause, Laubestraße 2, 01309 Dresden, Germany. Tel: + 49 351 3 12 66 23; E-mail: sabine.krause06@arcor.de

Summary

This study aimed to quantify differences in response to stress between two strains of Syrian hamsters to evaluate the consequences of domestication in this species by measuring behavioural traits in the open-field, adrenal gland masses (ADR), and faecal and blood corticosterone concentrations (CC). We studied a laboratory (lab)- and a wild-derived population (wild). The lab hamsters were significant heavier than the wild hamsters. The lab males had the highest ADR, and it was independent of their high body mass (BM). The ADR of lab females and wild hamsters was linearly dependent of BM. The lab males had the highest faecal and blood CC, whereas the lab females had the lowest CC. In the open field, the lab hamsters began later to groom, groomed shorter, groomed less frequently, began later to rear, reared longer and reared less frequently. In the lab population, females reared more often and groomed longer than males. The sex differences in the behaviours of the lab population and the differences between the populations mirror the differences neither in the ADR nor in the CC. The founder effect and the breeding history of lab Syrian hamsters are discussed as causes of the differences between the studied populations.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary