Is there any hard evidence on whether escaped pet hamsters can survive and thrive outdoors in America? Can escaped outdoor breeding populations ever get to be a pest problem?
I have no idea.
But around here, and especially near where I work down in Orange County, there are plenty of feral parrots flying around. Or is “feral” the right word? I have no doubt that they are breeding, and that most of the parrots I see are not simply escaped pets. (There are just too many of them.)
I think those are just wild parrots, Johnny. I remember them sitting in my avocado trees when I lived in your part of the world (Carlsbad). They made an awful racket. Seems to me I heard they migrated from Mexico.
No idea about hamsters, though… Hmmmm…
I think feral is the right word. That or pariah, maybe. But feral has the connotation of an animal that came from a domesticated stock but has never been tamed itself. For example, my family owns a cat who was once feral: She was born in a drainage ditch outside a car dealership.
Depends on the species of the hamster. Some originate in dry, warm, arid climates (Syria, specifically) so I doubt they could live anywhere cool and wet.
But then, there are European hamsters that live, well, in Europe and the Netherlands. These species could probably survive just fine.
So long as there were no Richard Geres roaming in the area.
According to my birding books there are several species of escaped pet parrots that may be breeding in CA (FL also). There are apparently self sustaining populations of monk parakeets as far North as NYC. At some point one stops referring to such populations as “feral” and starts calling them “introduced”.
All of the parrots I’ve seen here have been the same colour: Green with red on their heads. They’ve all been about nine to twelve inches in length. (They move around so quickly that I couldn’t get a reading on wingspan.)
The following is just a WAG, I claim no expertise in ecology or zoology.
Wouldn’t an area that could support a feral hamster population already have wild rodents? I would think that field mice or rats would already be using the resources that hamsters would need. I would think that the existing rodent population would out compete the hamsters.
In order to establish a population, the hamsters would need a birth rate higher than the rate of death. Many areas already have feral dog and cat populations. Unless the hamsters are escaping in groups, it seems unlikely that males and females would meet and mate with any frequency. Even if they could find food, predation would get them.
BTW-Several Southern Dopers can(and have, I’ll do a search later) attest that some parts of the southern US have populations of feral peacocks.