Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Photoperiodic regulation of body mass, food intake, hibernation, and reproduction in intact and castrated male European hamsters,Cricetus cricetus

  • 125 Accesses

  • 36 Citations


A group of sexually active male European hamsters were raised either in short-photoperiod conditions (SP; LD 8∶16) or in long-photoperiod conditions (LP; LD 16∶8) from their capture at the end of the hibernation period. Another group of hamsters was castrated in April and gonadectomized animals were maintained in SP and cold (7 °C) or in a succession of SP and LP plus cold. Another group, castrated in May or in September and raised in LP conditions, was transferred in September to SP conditions and cold.

  1. 1.

    Normal hamsters raised in continuous SP or LP apparently did not show signs of rhythmic behavior, except possibly in gonadal activity.

  2. 2.

    Body weight increased continuously, plasma testosterone levels oscillated between 1.5 and 2.5 ng/ml, and animals raised in SP and in cold did not enter hibernation.

  3. 3.

    Similar results were also found in castrated animals kept in SP conditions and cold.

  4. 4.

    The sequence LP-SP induced a decrease in food intake and body weight and a decrease in plasma testosterone levels and triggered entry into hibernation in both intact and castrated animals.

  5. 5.

    After 6 months continuously in SP and with exposure to cold spontaneous recrudescence in food intake and body weight occurred and hibernation ended in both intact and castrated animals.

  6. 6.

    In normal animals a spontaneous increase in plasma testosterone levels was observed.

  7. 7.

    In both normal and gonadectomized animals the phase of refractoriness could be broken by exposure to LP conditions.

  8. 8.

    The critical photoperiod lies between 15 and 15.5 h.

These results demonstrate that the European hamster is a photoperiodic species. Three parameters are under the control of the photoperiod: energy balance, hibernation, and gonadal function. These experiments provide evidence that in addition to having a gonadal effect the photoperiod can act directly on unknown cerebral structures involved in body weight regulation and hibernation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


LD :


LP :

long photoperiod



SP :

short photoperiod


  1. Allain D, Martinet L (1987) Role of the testis in the regulation of moulting period and pelage changes in the mink (Mustela vison). In: Boissin J, Assenmacher I (eds) Endocrine regulation as adaptative mechanisms to the environment. CNRS, Paris, pp 285–290

  2. Ambid L, Berges R (1981) Seasonal rhythm in plasma testosterone levels and gonadal activity in the hibernating garden dormouse. Cryobiology 18:88

  3. Bartness TJ, Wade GN (1984) Photoperiodic control of body weight and energy metabolism in Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus): role of pineal gland, melatonin, gonads and diet. Endocrinology 114:492–498

  4. Beasley LL, Zucker I (1984) Photoperiod influences the annual reproductive cycle of the male pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus). J Reprod Fert 70:567–573

  5. Boissin-Agasse L, Boissin J, Ortavant R (1982) Circadian photoperiodic control of testis activity in the mink (Mustela vison Peale et Beauvois), a short day mammal. Biol Reprod 26:110–119

  6. Canguilhem B (1985) Rythmes circannuels chez les mammifères hibernants sauvages. Canad J Zool 63:453–463

  7. Canguilhem B, Schieber JP, Koch A (1973) Rythme circannuel pondéral du hamster d'Europe (Cricetus cricetus). Influences respectives de la photopériode et de la température externe sur son déroulement. Arch Sci Physiol 27:67–90

  8. Canguilhem B, Vivien-Roels B, Demeinex B, Miro JL, Masson-Pévet M, Pévet P (1986) Seasonal and endogenous variations of plasma testosterone, thyroxine and triiodothyronine as adaptative mechanism to the environment. In: Boissin J, Assenmacher I (eds) CNRS, Paris, pp 291–295

  9. Canguilhem B, Masson-Pévet M, Koehl C, Pévet P, Bentz I (1988) Non gonadal mediated effect of photoperiod on hibernation and body weight of the European hamster. Comp Biochem Physiol 89A:575–578

  10. Dark J, Zucker I (1984) Gonadal and photoperiodic control of seasonal body weight changes in male voles. Am J Physiol 247:R84-R88

  11. Dark J, Zucker I, Wade GN (1983) Photoperiodic regulation of body mass, food intake and reproduction in meadow voles. Am J Physiol 245:R334-R338

  12. Davis DE (1976) Hibernation and circannual rhythms of food consumption in marmots and ground squirrels. Q Rev Biol 51:477–506

  13. Duby RT, Travis HF (1972) Photoperiodic control of fur growth and reproduction in the mink (Mustela vison). J Exp Zool 182:217–226

  14. Goldman BD, Darrow JM (1983) The pineal gland and mammalian photoperiodism. Neuroendocrinology 37:386–396

  15. Goldman BD, Darrow JM, Ducan MN, Yogev L (1986) Photoperiod, reproductive hormones and winter torpor in three hamster species. In: Heller MC, Musacchia XJ, Wang LCH (eds) Living in the cold: physiological and biochemical adaptations. Elsevier, New York, pp 341–350

  16. Gustafson AW (1979) Male reproductive patterns in hibernating bats. J Reprod Fert 56:317–331

  17. Hall VD, Bartke AJ, Goldman BD (1982) Role of the testis in regulating the duration of hibernation in the Turkish hamster,Mesocricetus brandti. Biol Reprod 27:802–810

  18. Heldmaier G, Steinlechner S, Rafael J, Vsiansky P (1981) Photoperiodic control and effects of melatonin on non shivering thermogenesis and brown adipose tissue. Science 212:917–919

  19. Heller HC, Poulson TL (1970) Circannian rhythms. II: Endogenous and exogenous factors controlling reproduction and hibernation in chipmunks (Eutamias) and ground squirrels (Spermophilus). Comp Biochem Physiol 33:357–383

  20. Hoffman RA, Davidson K, Steinberg K (1982) Influence of photoperiod and temperature on weight gain, food consumption, fat pads and thyroxine in male golden hamsters. Growth 46:150–162

  21. Hoffmann K (1973) The influence of photoperiod and melatonin on testis size, body weight and pelage colour in the Djungarian Hamster (Phodopus sungorus). J Comp Physiol 85:267–282

  22. Jallageas M, Assenmacher I (1983) Annual plasma testosterone and thyroxine cycles in relation to hibernation in the edible dormouseGlis glis. Gen Comp Endocrinol 50:452–467

  23. Jallageas M, Assenmacher I (1986) Effects of castration and thyroidectomy on annual biological cycles in the edible dormouseGlis glis. Gen Comp Endocrinol 63:301–308

  24. Jansky L, Haddad G, Kahlerovà Z, Nedoma J (1984) Effect of external factors on hibernation of golden hamsters. J Comp Physiol A 154:427–433

  25. Kenagy GJ (1980) Interrelation of endogenous annual rhythms of reproduction and hibernation in the golden-mantled ground squirrel. J Comp Physiol 135:333–339

  26. Kott KS, Moore BJ, Horwitz BA (1986) Decreased testosterone levels do not mediate short-photoperiod-induced brown fat changes. Am J Physiol 251:R963-R970

  27. Licht P, Zucker I, Hubbard G, Boshes M (1982) Circannual rhythms of plasma testosterone and luteinizing hormone levels in golden-mantled ground squirrels (Spermophilus lateralis). Biol Reprod 27:411–418

  28. Lynch GL, White SE, Grundel R, Berger MS (1978) Effects of photoperiod, melatonin administration and thyroid block on spontaneous daily torpor and temperature regulation in the white-footed mouse,Peromyscus leucopus. J Comp Physiol 125:157–163

  29. Martinet L, Allain D (1988) Role of the pineal gland in the photoperiodic control of reproductive and non-reproductive functions in mink (Mustela vison) in photoperiodism, melatonin and the pineal. Ciba Found Symp 117:170–187

  30. Masson-Pévet M, Pévet P, Vivien-Roels B (1987) Pinealectomy and constant release of melatonin or 5-methoxytryptamine induce testicular atrophy in the European hamster (Cricetus cricetus L.). J Pineal Res 4:79–88

  31. Muul I (1969) Photoperiod and reproduction in flying squirrels,Glaucomys volans. J Mammal 50:542–549

  32. Pengelley ET, Asmundson SJ (1969) Free running periods of endogenous circannian rhythms in the golden-mantled ground squirrelCitellus lateralis. Comp Biochem Physiol 30:177–183

  33. Petterborg LJ (1978) Effect of photoperiod on body weight in the vole,Microtus montanus. Can J Zool 56:431–435

  34. Petterborg LJ, Vaughan MK, Johnson LY, Champhey TA, Reiter RJ (1984) Modification of testicular and thyroid function by chronic exposure to short photoperiod: a comparison in four rodent species. Comp Biochem Physiol 78A:31–34

  35. Pistole DH, Cranford JA (1982) Photoperiodic effects on growth inMicrotus pensylvanicus. J Mammal 65:547–553

  36. Racey PA (1974) The reproductive cycle in male noctulus bats,Nyctalus noctula. J Reprod Fert 41:169–182

  37. Reiter RJ (1972) Evidence of refractoriness of the pituitarygonadal axis to the pineal gland in golden hamsters and its possible implications in annual reproductive rhythms. Anat Res 173:365–372

  38. Reiter RJ (1980) The pineal and its hormones in the control of reproduction in mammals. Endocr Rev 1:109–132

  39. Saboureau M (1986) Hibernation in the hedgehog: influence of external and internal factors. In: Heller HC, Musacchia XJ, Wang LCH (eds) Living in the cold. Elsevier, New York, pp 253–263

  40. Saboureau M, Boissin J (1978) Seasonal changes and environmental control of testicular function in the hedgehogErinaceus europaeus L. In: Assenmacher I, Farner DS (eds) Environmental endocrinology. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 111–112

  41. Scott I, D'Agostino G, Gernova T, Becker L, Giovinazzo L (1981) Seasonal testosterone in the Eastern Chipmunk,Tamias striatus. Cryobiology 18:89

  42. Vitale PM, Darrow JM, Duncan MJ, Shustak CA, Goldman BD (1985) Effect of photoperiod, pinealectomy and castration on body weight and daily torpor in Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus). J Endocrinol 106:367–375

  43. Wade GN, Bartness TJ (1984) Effects of photoperiod and gonadectomy on food intake, body weight and body composition in Siberian hamsters. Am J Physiol 246:R26-R30

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Bernard Canguilhem.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Canguilhem, B., Vaultier, J.-., Pévet, P. et al. Photoperiodic regulation of body mass, food intake, hibernation, and reproduction in intact and castrated male European hamsters,Cricetus cricetus . J. Comp. Physiol. 163, 549–557 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00604908

Download citation


  • Food Intake
  • Normal Animal
  • Weight Regulation
  • Gonadal Function
  • Cerebral Structure