Travaux du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle “Grigore Antipa” 66(1): 197-209, doi: 10.3897/travaux.66.e108195
Preliminary observations on the food availability and diet composition of the Romanian hamster Mesocricetus newtoni (Rodentia, Cricetidae)
expand article infoViorel Dumitru Gavril§, Oana Cristiana Vasiliu|, Ioana Cobzaru, Dumitru Murariu, Tiberiu Constantin Sahlean, Gabriel Bogdan Chișamera, Roxana Georgiana Nicoară
‡ Institute of Biology Bucharest, Romanian Academy, Bucharest, Romania§ University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania| Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, Popești Leordeni, Romania¶ University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania
Open Access
The Romanian hamster Mesocricetus newtoni is endemic to South-Eastern Romania (Dobruja region) and North-Eastern Bulgaria, and prefers steppic, arid, uncultivated habitats, but is also found in alfalfa fields, less often in corn cultures and field-protecting vegetation belts. Previous studies provide only limited data regarding the diet of this cryptic species. The diet of one family group (one female and four pups) was monitored for 10 days, during the vernal season. The data was collected using camera traps and direct observations, supplemented by photos. Plants were identified at the species level. A vegetation survey was performed in a radius of 25 m2 around the burrows using the pratological method, estimating a percentage of each plant species present in the habitat. A number of 16 plants were identified as part of the diet of the Romanian hamster, mostly herbaceous species within the Brassicaceae family. According to the observations, Erodium cicutarium (Geraniaceae) and Papaver rhoeas (Papaveraceae) were consumed most frequently, followed by Descurainia sophia (Brassicaceae), Sisymbrium orientale (Brassicaceae), Medicago minima (Fabaceae) and Buglossoides arvense (Boraginaceae). In the studied area, 38 plant taxa were determined and characterized as ruderal and segetal (weeds of arable land) plants, mostly native to Eurasia. The purpose of this study is to provide novel data on the diet composition of the Romanian hamster in accordance with plant taxa availability and to emphasize the importance of conservation measures of its preferred habitats, which are crucial to the survival of the species.
Mesocricetus newtoni, diet, vegetation, field margins, conservation, foraging