Wild Tracks

On behalf of the world's wild species

Meet The Carnivore: Falanouc

Falanouc image from http://www.arkive.org

The carnivores of Madagascar consist of eight small to medium sized species in the Eupleridae Family.

The Falanouc Eupleres goudotii resembles the Mongoose family, with its elongated body, prominent ears, long, narrow snout and short, rounded tail. Their soft, dense fur is reddish-brown. They have very large feet, and the claws are non-retractable on the front limbs. This gives them a slow, sauntering gait when walking.

These carnivores are found on the eastern portion of the island of Madagascar, in humid forests with aquatic habitats and marshlands.

Falanouc have very unusual dentition. Both their canines and their premolars are flattened, and backwards-curving, indicative of an animal that eats slippery prey. Their primary diet consists of earthworms, although slugs, insects, frogs and other soft bodied items are eaten. Their long front claws are used to dig prey from rotten wood, or shallow soil.

These animals are active anytime during the day or night, and camera traps have photographed them at many different hours. Virtually no information is known about their home range size, social organization or reproduction in the wild. The scarce biological information available comes from the few captive Falanoucs.

When threatened, instead of fleeing, they maintain a freezing posture, and can remain in the position for up to an hour.

These animals are known to store up to 800 grams of subcutaneous fat in their tail. This accumulation takes place just before the cold and dry season when food availability may be reduced. This fat reserve could allow the animal to survive during periods when food is difficult to find.

All terrestrial mammals on the island of Madagascar are threatened by habitat loss and degradation, hunting for bush meat and predation by feral or hunting dogs. Introduced species such as the Indian Civet may also take their toll.

The IUCN Red Data List has classed the Falanouc as Near Threatened, in part because no factual data exist on their status in the wild. No population estimates exist, and it is possible they could be Endangered because of the excessive habitat destruction on the island.

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