Mouselike hamster

Calomyscus bailwardi

SUBFAMILY

Calomyscinae

TAXONOMY

Calomyscus bailwardi Thomas, 1905, Iran.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Asian hamster mouse.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length 2.4-3.8 in (61-98 mm); tail 2.8-4 in (72-102 mm); weigh 0.5-1 oz (15-30 g). The fur is fine and soft, a sandy brown above and creamy white on the belly and feet. Tail is furry, and tufted at the end; dark above and white below. The ears are large and rounded, and whiskers are long. They have four-rooted molar teeth.

DISTRIBUTION

Central Asia, including Iran, Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

HABITAT

Found in a variety of habitats, from barren hillsides to wet forests, and from 1,310 to 11,480 ft (400-3,500 m) elevation. They build nests in rock crevices and other protected areas; nests are woven of grasses and other soft materials, including wool.

BEHAVIOR

Not highly social animals, but they can be found sheltering together in the wild and they huddle together in captivity. They are active at night during summer, but may extend activity into the dawn and dusk hours during spring and fall.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Eat primarily seeds, but also eat flowers, leaves, and animal foods when available.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeding may occur twice yearly, with a peak of reproduction in spring and then a late season breeding period; this may vary regionally and depend on food availability. Young are born hairless and with their eyes closed; they develop quickly and reach adult size at 6-8 months old.

CONSERVATION STATUS

There is very little known on the status of this calomyscine mouse, or other species in this genus. Two species are listed as Vulnerable in Russia. They may be locally abundant. Calomyscus hotsoni, of Pakistan, is considered endangered.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Where Calomyscus species are abundant and live near human habitations, they may act as agricultural pests or harbor disease agents. However, they are more likely to have little to no effect on humans, except in their role as members of healthy ecosystems. ♦

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