How Big are Hamster Cheeks?

The BBC One series “Pets – Wild at Heart” seeks to reveal the normal behaviors of our pets in ways we may have never seen or considered before. The show presents the information in a wonderful way with creative and amazing camera techniques like moving x-rays, slow motion, animal mounted cameras, and thermal imaging. It is narrated by David Tennant, the 10th Doctor from “Doctor Who” for those interested in that!

One segment in the first episode investigates how hamsters are able to store so much food in their cheeks. The show utilizes a moving x-ray of a hamster stuffing its cheeks to show you:

The reality of the hamster’s cheek pouches is fascinating!

Just look at how cute the hamster makes stuffing its face:

They are able to fit so much in their pouches because they run all the way down to their hips! These x-ray views show some of the food pieces sitting close to the hamster’s side, getting closer to his hips:

Tiny hamster hips and ribs! They are even cute in x-ray!

To keep the food dry the hamster does not secrete any saliva while it has food in its pouches.When nothing else will fit a hamster can carry one last thing with them. Here is the hamster from the show attempting to fit a piece of food too large into the tube. Just look how sleek he still looks from the sides, very had to tell he has food stored all the way down his sides.

He even still fits into that tube to bring the food to his horde.

I had no idea hamster cheeks were so large!

Watch “Pets – Wild at Heart” to see even more amazing pet facts on BBC One.

– Fizz

2014 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Winners

The competition honors nature photographers from around the world and is hosted by the British Natural History Museum and the BBC. Professional, amateur, and young photographers can enter their photographs.

The overall winner (and winner of the black and white category) is a shot of lions and their cubs, “The Last Great Photograph,” by American Michael Nichols:

Michael Nichols is an award winning photographer who works as an editor for National Geographic, you can read more about him here.

The winner in the mammal category is “The Mouse, The Moon, and The Mosquito” by Alex Badyaev:
A beautiful shot with the play of light and shadow on such small subjects.

The winner of the birds category is “Herons in Time and Space” by Bence Mate:
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The photographer went to great lengths to get an amazing shot of these grey herons in Hungary. He used two timing devices for his camera, one to move the focus and one to adjust aperture. It took 74 nights before the conditions were right to get a photograph of both the herons and the stars in the sky.

The winner of the world in our hands category is “The Price They Pay” by Bruno D’Amicis:
Selling fennec foxes is illegal in Tunisa but it is still widespread. In the above photograph a teenager offers this young fenec fox for sale after it was recently dug out of its den in the desert. Issues like this are important to understand when considering the obstacles many endangered species face from humans.

You can see more winners here, and all of the entries at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year website. Below are some more images that I wanted to share from the competition.

A finalist in the mammals category, “Intimacy,” by Michael Nichols.
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A finalist in the birds category is “touche” by Jan van der Greef:
The hummingbird with the long beak is called a sword-billed hummingbird. It is the only bird with a bill longer than its body.

A finalist in the 11 – 14 year old competition title “Owlets United” by Sitara Karthikeyan:
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A finalist in the 15 – 17 year old competition titled “Snowbird” by Edwin Sahlin:

Here are a couple of the People’s Choice Award finalists which is a new special award:
“Feel Safe” by Juan Carlos Mimo Perez
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“Red Deer and Cranes” by Marek Kosinski
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If you like these photos I highly suggest you check out the rest of the finalists and winners at the Natural History Museum’s website.