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Sculptures by Phyllis Bone

Golden Hamster

Mesocricetus auratus

Suborder Sciurognathi

Golden Hamsters live in arid or semiarid areas in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. They have a compact, rounded body with short legs, thick fur and large ears. Their front paws are modified hands, giving great dexterity when handling food. Hamsters are mainly herbivorous, eating seeds, shoots and root vegetables.

Cheek pouches, consisting of loose folds of skin, start from between the prominent incisors and premolars and extend along the outside of the lower jaw. These pouches expand when food is pushed into them, enabling hamsters to carry large quantities of food to their storage chambers. This is a useful adaptation for an animal which lives where food may occur irregularly but then in great abundance.