Pritchett-Corning, K. R., Gaskill, B. N. 2015. Lack of negative effects on Syrian hamsters and Mongolian gerbils housed in the same secondary enclosure. JAALAS 54(3), 261-266.
In cases where different species might be housed in the same room or secondary enclosure, the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals recommends that the animals should be behaviorally compatible and have the same health status. Syrian hamsters and Mongolian gerbils, both desert-dwelling rodents, appear to be reasonable candidates for such a combination. This study was undertaken to evaluate whether housing hamsters and gerbils in the same secondary enclosure is an acceptable practice. Weanling and breeding-age hamsters and gerbils were housed in open-topped cages in an isolator for 5 mo; the isolator also contained nude and haired mice, which acted as sentinels. Cages housing hamsters and gerbils were rotated between species, and dirty bedding was exchanged between species in an effort to transmit microorganisms. In addition, sentinel mice housed in the isolator were supplied with dirty bedding from both hamsters and gerbils. Neither species showed clinical signs of illness, the health status of neither the hamsters nor the gerbils changed significantly, and the sentinel mice acquired only 2 infectious organisms, a Helicobacter species and Staphylococcus aureus. Both hamsters and gerbils bred successfully when housed together in the same isolator, and no infanticide or mortality was seen. Breeding performance did not differ between isolator breeding and barrier breeding. This study supports the housing of hamsters and gerbils in the same secondary enclosure.