The constitution of the hamster suggests that it is an inveterate digger of the depths. Its cylindrical body has a graceful bone structure, which however makes the animal extremely vulnerable to fractures.
Body and legs of the Hamster
Hamsters have a rather round figure, with short legs that seem to flex under the weight of the body. But they are very pretty and very effective, when you see how fast and frequently hamsters run.
Legs and Toes: The hamster’s forelegs are powerful and muscular, and feature four toes, as well as a rudimentary atrophied thumb. It is with the help of these toes that the hamster digs the earth, climbs or does pirouettes. The hind legs, weaker but with five well-formed toes, serve as “shovels” to throw back the soil that the hamster has scratched, or as support during climbing.
Cheekbones of the Hamster
Cheekbones are characteristic of hamsters, which use them as real pockets. The animal collects and transports food there. In the wild, it does not eat on the spot, but brings food back to the nest, where it can eat without being disturbed and fearful of serving as prey in its turn.
Compared to the body, the cheekbones are huge and extend from the mouth to the shoulders. They can contain a large volume. To empty them, the hamster rubs them back and forth.
Cheekbones: these are bags of skin that open inside the lips and go to the shoulders. They are used by the hamster in the first place to transport food that it does not consume immediately. They are so large that when full, the hamster’s body doubles in size. It can store up to 18 g of food. Cheekbones play no role in the digestion process. On the other hand, they can be a very useful defense: often, to impress an enemy, the hamster inflates them by filling them with air.
Teeth of the Hamster
Hamsters are rodents, which means that their incisors are constantly growing. They also have twelve molars with roots, but these stop growing. Hamsters need constant access to gnawing material in order to regularly wear down their incisors.
A powerful jaw: Like almost all rodents, the hamster has 16 teeth, 2 incisors and 6 molars per jaw. The incisors, chisel-shaped, have no roots, so their growth is never complete. They feed by themselves when the hamster eats. The masticatory muscles are particularly developed.
Eyes of the Hamster
Hamsters do not have good eyesight. But their eyes can see independently of each other, because they are located on the sides of the head. This gives them a wide field of vision, but they see blurry up close and have difficulty judging distances and heights.
On the other hand, they can see very well in the dark. Most domestic hamsters have dark brown eyes, but there are individuals with red eyes (albinos). People with albinism often suffer from visual problems. Their retina does not have pigments, they are very sensitive to light. Exposure of a few hours to bright light can irreparably damage the retina.
Hamsters have relatively large, slightly protruding eyes like most nocturnal animals. They are presbyopic and do not have particularly high visual acuity. But the lateral position of the eyes gives the hamster a good field of vision (around 110 °), which allows him to spot his enemies in time.
Ears of the Hamster
The funnel-shaped ears are covered in hair to prevent sand and dirt from entering them when the hamster digs. They are very efficient and perceive very low sounds. It is assumed that they even hear ultrasound, completely inaudible to humans.
The hamster’s hearing is very clear. It very probably even perceives ultrasound. Hamsters also jump when they hear high-pitched or screeching sounds nearby, which almost always contain some ultrasound. In addition, hearing is very differentiated: all hamsters learn very quickly to distinguish the voice of the person who takes care of them from that of other people.
Hamsters perceive and distinguish pitches well and quickly recognize the voice of their healer. The ears are very mobile and orient themselves in several directions. When they need calm to sleep, their ears close and fold over their backs.
Nose of the Hamster
Hamsters have a strong sense of smell. It is vital for them, because they live in a world of smells. Each animal has a unique scent. They recognize friend, foe, family, sexual partners and illnesses by smell . They mark the limits of their territory with scent markers, their urine and their droppings.
So the rivals immediately know what is going on. The scent markers are secreted by a special gland located in the middle of the belly.
Smell: it is extraordinarily differentiated. The hamster lives in a world of smells. The good relations of a pair of hamsters can quickly turn into fierce hostility if one animal is found separated from the other, transported to another setting, stroked by unfamiliar hands, or put in another hamster’s cage. . You have to know this and make sure not to lose the group odor in animals that got along well until then, if you want to leave them together.
However, this group odor can be lost just by separating the animals by a fence, inside the same cage, because they no longer have the possibility of cleaning each other, nor of sleeping nested. against each other. It is then totally impossible to get used to one another of the females of the same litter again, it can be done for a couple, but it takes a lot of patience and many trials.
Whiskers of the Hamster
The very many hair in the whiskers are equipped with sensitive nerves and are used to orient the hamster. There are not only on the head, but also on the body and on the legs. Very sensitive, they allow the animal to register the slightest movement of air and to repeat the obstacle.
In nature, this faculty is vital. Entering a small burrow with the vibrissae touching the walls, the hamster immediately knows that the passage is too narrow for him. If he got stuck, he would become easy prey.
The hamster orientates itself using its vibrissae. They inform him of the presence of obstacles on the way, or of the passage through a narrow opening. They are excellent tactile organs.
Stomach of the Hamster
Another peculiarity, which the hamster shares with other rodents: it has a stomach with two cavities. The food is predigested in the “crop”, the larger of the two cavities, then dissolved in the stomach.