Animal husbandry of Hamsters for conservation actions (A1)

Goals of the action:

Animals reintroduced into their natural environment (actions C2 and C3) and used for experimentation of new crop-raising techniques, (actions A3 and C1) will come from a semi-free husbandry farm that will use innovative breeding techniques which limit contact with humans and prepare animals to survive in their natural environment. The survival rate of animals re-introduced is nil 15 days after they have been released without anti-predation equipment. This is probably because Hamsters that have been raised and then released are too sensitive to issues such as having food brought to them on a daily basis by the keeper, etc. In addition, experimentations must be carried out on new farming techniques with Hamsters raised in comparable conditions.

Results of actions carried out in 2012 prove that maintaining a non-harvested vegetative cover in portions of farm land fenced in by an electric fence significantly increases the lifespan of European Hamsters raised in a non-natural environment. Reproduction rates observed in 2012, from 0.6 to 1 per litter per stock-bred female released, remain stable as compared with 2010 and 2011. This protocol guarantees in situ reproduction of non-gestating stock-bred females released, thus allowing the presence of a wild generation born in situ the year of the release.

The number of animals released in good condition has regularly increased over the past three years. In 2010, only 21 of the 217 released animals were released on a plot of non-harvested wheat, fenced in electrically. In 2011, 40 of the 191 individuals released took advantage of conditions ensuring them in situ survival and reproduction. In 2012, 190 stock-bred animals, including 125 females, took advantage of the best possible conditions.

Reproduction of these 125 females allowed us to note the presence of 137 burrows occupied at the end of September 2012, with the presence of individuals who could possibly lead to new cores of wild populations in zones where the species was present. Their persistence was favoured by the presence of a favourable vegetative cover placed over and near these zones, as of 2013.

In charge of the action: CNRS