Round cheeks, small feet exploring the area, fluffy body that fits just in the palm of a human hand. Domesticated hamsters are popular pets. However, it is not well known that there are 26 species of wild hamsters in Parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. All species are adorable, but they are not always friendly.
European hamsters (also known as The Cricus cricetus and Kurohara hamsters) are aggressive and jump and bite when people try to touch them, says Mikhail Lucin, a researcher at Kiev Zoo in Ukraine. “Even individuals born in captivity don’t like people when they grow up.”
Even so violently, European hamsters weighing about 450 grams are very vulnerable to threats such as climate change, agriculture, and light pollution. Perhaps because of this, the number is decreasing in the wild, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) designated the European hamster as a near-extinct species on July 9.
European hamsters were once seen in grasslands throughout Europe and West Asia, but their habitats have shrunk dramatically. France’s habitat has lost as much as 94%, leaving only the Alsace region. It also fell by more than 75% in Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine and Russia. European hamsters will die extinct within 30 years if no action is taken, according to the IUCN.
In the wake of a very critical situation, One of the members who decided to do so, Roussin said new conservation efforts will be spurred. His team has already taken action and reintroduced 11 European hamsters raised in captivity to Ukraine’s Hotin National Park this week. It is the first-ever attempt in Ukraine.
The protection of European hamsters is important because they are the “central species” of their most important prey for many predators, from the members of the Red Fox to large birds like the Eurasian eagle wormfish. A central species refers to a species that has a great influence on habitats and brings the ecosystem together, even though the amount of living is small.
“Losing this species is in danger of destroying the current ecosystem,” Roussin said. In turn, it may harm human society. People rely on ecosystems for food, water, and other resources. “Some people think it has nothing to do with nature, but that’s not the case.”
He also adds that if European hamsters become extinct, they will lose a little color from the world again. With its black belly, white mottled pattern, and maroon back, European hamsters can be said to be “probably one of the most beautiful rodents in Europe.”