, Volume 183, Issue 2, pp 269-277

Hibernation patterns of Turkish hamsters: influence of sex and ambient temperature

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Abstract

Turkish hamsters (Mesocricetus brandti) are a model organism for studies of hibernation, yet a detailed account of their torpor characteristics has not been undertaken. This study employed continuous telemetric monitoring of body temperature (T b) in hibernating male and female Turkish hamsters at ambient temperatures (T as) of 5 and 13 °C to precisely characterize torpor bout depth, duration, and frequency, as well as rates of entry into and arousal from torpor. Hamsters generated brief intervals of short (<12 h), shallow test bouts (T b > 20 °C), followed by deep torpor bouts lasting 4–6 days at T a = 5 °C and 2–3 days at T a = 13 °C. Females at T a = 5 °C had longer bouts than males, but maintained higher torpor T b; there were no sex differences at T a = 13 °C. Neither body mass loss nor food intake differed between the two T as. Hamsters entered torpor primarily during the scotophase (subjective night), but timing of arousals was highly variable. Hamsters at both T as generated short, shallow torpor bouts between deep bouts, suggesting that this species may be capable of both hibernation and daily torpor.

Communicated by G. Heldmaier.