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Forensic Sci Int. 1995 Mar 31;72(2):81-90.

Postmortem injuries inflicted by domestic golden hamster: morphological aspects and evidence by DNA typing.

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  • 1Institute of Legal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Breisgau, Germany.


A case of postmortem animal scavenging by a domestic golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) is presented. A 43-year-old woman, who was not under medical treatment, was found dead in her flat with the lower part of her body naked and her legs straddled. Her face showed extensive lesions of the soft tissues which the medical examiner interpreted as vital scalping injuries. The total findings at the scene suggested at first a sexual offence. On autopsy the face injuries were identified as postmortem defects by animal scavenging with the teeth marks typical of rodents. In fact, the deceased had kept in her flat a free-range golden hamster whose burrow contained numerous fingernail-sized pieces of skin, fatty and muscular tissue. By means of DNA typing it was proved that these pieces of tissue belonged to the deceased.

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