Daily torpor in the Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus): interactions with food intake, activity, and social behaviour

Thomas Ruf, Martin Klingenspor, Hannelore Preis, Gerhard Heldmaier

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102 Scopus citations


In Djungarian hamsters, Phodopus sungorus, daily torpor occurs spontaneously in winter in the presence of abundant food, but individuals show different tendencies to enter torpor. The results show that in hamsters fed rodent chow ad libitum individual torpor frequencies were negatively correlated with both food consumption and the amount of nocturnal locomotor activity. Provision of cafeteria diet at ambient temperatures below thermoneutrality significantly lowered torpor frequencies and induced body weight gains. However, in hamsters fed seeds with a high fat or carbohydrate content (i.e., sunflower seeds or wheat, respectively) neither a decrease of torpor frequencies nor an increase of body weights was observed. The results suggest that in Djungarian hamsters, daily torpor is an intrinsic component of energy balance control and is functionally linked to individual physiological adjustments of food consumption and foraging activity. In addition, the employment of daily torpor can be affected by social interactions, since the long-term pattern of alternations between torpor and normothermia was found to be synchronized in breeding pairs caged together.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-615
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology - B Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Body temperature
  • Cafeteria diet
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Locomotor activity
  • Sociality


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