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J Comp Physiol A. 1988 Aug;163(4):549-57.

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

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  • 1Institut de Physiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université Louis-Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.


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 degrees 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. Normal hamsters raised in continuous SP or LP apparently did not show signs of rhythmic behavior, except possibly in gonadal activity. 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. Similar results were also found in castrated animals kept in SP conditions and cold. 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. 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. In normal animals a spontaneous increase in plasma testosterone levels was observed. 7. In both normal and gonadectomized animals the phase of refractoriness could be broken by exposure to LP conditions. 8. The critical photoperiod lies between 15 and 15.5 h. These results demonstrate that the European hamster is a photoperiodic species.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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