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(black-bellied hamster), a genus of rodents of the family Cricetidae. The cylindric body reaches a length of 35 cm. The short legs, ears, and tail are not covered with fur. The body is ocher-brown above and black below. There are light spots on the sides and, at times, on the neck and behind the ears.
There are three or four species of black-bellied hamsters, inhabiting forest steppes, plains, and plateaus in southeastern Europe, including the Caucasus. The rodents are also found in Southwest Asia, Asia Minor, and Kazakhstan. Black-bellied hamsters are solitary animals. A litter usually consists of 11 or 12 young; occasionally there are as many as 20 young. The animals store and feed on seeds; they often destroy crops. The pelts of large species, such C. cricetus, are tanned. Black-bellied hamsters often are divided into two genera: Cricetus and Meso-cricetus.