Hamsters and "inbreeding depression"

Jim Cummins cummins at possum.murdoch.edu.au
Tue Feb 15 20:22:02 EST 1994

Some time ago I read that all laboratory hamsters derive from three
litter mates trapped in the Middle East in the 20's (?).  Apparently
there was an attempt to bring in new strains at one stage, but I
haven't been able to find out anything about it.  The topic came up in
a discussion of "inbreeding depression" and infertility in animals that
have been through population bottlenecks, such as Cheetahs.  Clearly
infertility affects some spec ies more than others, as one couldn't
catagorise hamsters (or laboratory  mice, for that matter) as
infertile!  The Cheetah story is complicated by selectiv e culling of
cubs by males, of course.  What's the latest thinking on this from

Jim Cummins                   
School of Veterinary Studies
Murdoch University
Western Australia 6150  Tel +61-9-360 2668 Fax +61-9-310 4144
"An inordinate fondness for Beetles"

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