By Graham Smith
This cheeky hamster looks as if he has bitten off a little more than it can chew.
But the rodent is actually transporting food in its bulging cheek pouches across a cemetery in central Vienna.
The industrious European hamster is an increasingly rare sight in the wild and is considered critically endangered in many countries on the continent.
Fat face: A European hamster transports food across a Vienna cemetery in its bulging cheek pouches
Industrious: The breed is an increasingly rare sight in the wild and is considered critically endangered in many countries on the continent
This is largely due to the fact that it is considered a farmland pest by many and has been widely trapped for its fur.
It has also been the victim of a leap in intensive farming and increased building.
European hamsters eat a diet of seeds, legumes, root vegetables and grasses and also insects.
This food is often transported in their elastic cheek pouches back to a special underground food storage chamber.
These pouches are big enough to hold 30g of food and carry air when the animal, which can grow up to 12 inches long, is swimming.
Their size means they are bigger than the typical domestic hamster.
The European hamster eats a diet of seeds, legumes, root vegetables and grasses and also insects
The animal transports food in its elastic cheek pouches back to a special underground food storage chamber
As it normally looks: The European hamster is concentrated in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and north-east France
From October and March the hamster will hibernate, waking every five to seven days to feed from carefully stored food.
Also known as black-bellied, or common hamsters, the breed originated in eastern Europe and Russia.
They are now concentrated in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and north-east France.
Such is the threat to their number in recent decades, that in 2001 the European Commission ruled that the German authorities were not doing enough to protect its natural habitat.
The then-Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstroem said at the time: 'We must take our legal safeguards seriously or we face the wipeout of endangered species through the creeping loss of habitats.'
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Hamster bites off more than it can chew as it scurries across cemetery with food stored in its cheek pouches
By Graham Smith