Eurasian Hamster Spinning Behaviour?

Hi, iNatters.

I recently started filming the eurasian hamsters (C. cricetus) near where I live, and captured some interesting behaviour which I’m curious about. I asked a behavioural biologist friend of mine who’s done a lot of work with guinea pigs, but they weren’t sure about it. In “Clinical Anatomy of the Eurasian Hamster” I found one reference to courtship behaviour where females run in figure-eights, which is my best guess so far. There was another hamster nearby a few seconds before it started spinning, but it left quickly and didn’t return.

It’s at 0:57, in this clip: https://waterpigs.co.uk/notes/5D9NcJ/

Any ideas?

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As you mentioned guinea pigs, could it be a way of marking territory with scent, as pigs are doing to each other? It seems for me when it’s spinning it has area around hind legs slightly above the ground on one side.
Like this, but without second animal, they’d be doing a full round:

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I would guess this is a scent marking activity; yours is a male and this would make sense, I think. How interesting to see a hamster in the wild. When I was a kid in the 1950s, my brother and I reared hamsters for the pet trade. In those days they were much closer to the wild state (I think they were brought to the US about 1946) with the only variants being albinos. I definitely remember that figure-eight behavior of receptive females! Hamsters as pets were novel then but we were terrified of having them get loose in the yard as we’d read they would be a terrible agricultural pest. Owl food is more likely though. Thanks for the memory.

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But were they Common hamsters or Syrian, etc.?

Scent marking makes a lot of sense, and would explain the brief interaction with the other hamster beforehand — presumably a territorial dispute, after which the winner wanted to cement their claim.

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I have seen rabbits do it - spin around aimlessly - maybe they are chasing their tails?

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Good point, those were Mesocricetus, Syrian hamsters. Didn’t have the black throat.

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That’s a cool story, didn’t know their popularity was fairly new!
I never heard about pet Eurasian hamsters tbh, they’re huge compared to other ones, I wouldn’t mind owning one if it wasn’t aggressive!

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From what I’ve read about Eurasian hamsters, the wild ones are very aggressive, but ones raised in captivity are neutral or friendly towards humans. Apparently they only live for a few years in lab conditions as they aren’t able to hibernate, and it’s tricky to get them to breed as the “running around in figure-eights” mating behaviour requires a lot of space! Considering that they’re also critically endangered — probably not ideal pets ;) So I’m very lucky to have hundreds of them living in easily-observable conditions within cycling distance of my flat.

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Yes, good only in theory!.) I wanted to look up for them on the South of region I live in, they were found there, but only a few are left.