The body of the ring-tailed mungo, like other Madagascar predators, is long and slender. Small sizes: body length about 30-38 cm, tail length about 23-30 cm, weight 650-960 g. The limbs are of medium height, thin and short. The ring-tailed mungo, in comparison with other predators, has shorter fingers with long smooth non-retractable claws. The paw pads are large and without wool, smooth and bare. Between the fingers there are small swimming membranes.
The head is small, has a skull wide in the brain, and the muzzle is long, tapering to the nose, sharply pointed. The fangs are short, and the second upper pre-root tooth is very small. Dental formula - I 3/3, C 1/1, P 3/3, M 2/2 = 36 teeth. Ears are small, widely spaced, rounded, of medium height. The tips of the ears are white. The fur is short. The hairline of the body is brown (dark brown or dark brown-chestnut) color. The back is reddish, the head, throat and chest are colored from light brown to olive, the legs are red-black, and the stomach is dark. The tail is pubescent with long hair, it has 5-7 transverse alternating dark brown (red-brown) and black rings, and in shape it looks like a fox.
The diploid number of chromosomes is 44. Sexual dimorphism is pronounced. Males are heavier than females. Females have specific skin glands near the genitals, and males have odorous glands located in the external genital area. Females have a pair of inguinal mammary glands, the uterus is double.
Ring-tailed mungoes are very few in number, and their ecology is poorly studied. Their main habitat is moist rainforests, but are also found in drier deciduous forests in the western part of Madagascar. They rise to elevated habitats up to 1950 m above sea level.
Small vertebrates, such as rodents, insectivores, lemurs of the genera Cheirogaleus and Microcebus, birds, their eggs and chicks, amphibians, reptiles and fish, form the basis of the diet of ring-tailed mungos. Catching its prey, the mungo kills it with one quick bite in the neck. They feed on invertebrate animals: crabs and crayfish, snails and millipedes, all kinds of insects and their larvae. Sometimes ring-tailed mungoes can eat fruits and fruits. There was competition among ring-tailed mungoes for prey with small Indian civet.
Ring-tailed mungoes are active during daylight hours, although activity peaks occur in the early morning and time before dusk. At night, they sleep in various shelters - hollow trees, logs or in holes that they often dig themselves. In burrows, the mungo also hides from enemies that it digs with incredible speed. Accommodations are constantly changing, which helps them get rid of parasites. Ring-tailed mungos are kept in pairs and small family groups, which are a couple and its offspring - up to 5 individuals in total. Occasionally there are loners. They are very playful and agile animals, they climb trees well, where they hunt for various prey. They have the ability to climb thin vertical trunks of trees with a diameter of only 4 cm. Ring-tailed mungoes swim well, but spend most of their time on the ground. They climb the tree head up, and descend from the tree head down.
When moving through the trees of the group, in front of it is a female, in the middle are the cubs, and the male closes the procession. Ring-tailed mungoes are territorial, the size of their individual site usually takes up to 20-25 hectares. The males mark the boundaries of the plot, making them “scrapers,” tearing off the bark of trees or bushes with their claws and leaving odorous marks here, marking the secret of their fragrant glands on stones and tree trunks. The meeting of the two groups is usually accompanied by aggressive behavior.
The voice signals of the ring-tailed mungo are diverse, and they themselves are very talkative. When communicating with each other, they whistle, during the struggle they growl, scream and grumble. Having caught the prey of the ring-tailed mungo, they make meowing sounds like cats, and when they are alarmed, they moan. The life expectancy of mungoes in nature is up to about 13 years; in captivity, the individual lived for about 24 years.
Puberty occurs in 2 years. Each female can give up to two litters per year. Mating takes place from April to November; cubs are born in July-February. Pregnancy lasts from 52 to 92 days, more often - 79-90 days, after which the female gives birth to a single calf, which weighs only 50 g. Young ones reach physical maturity by 1 year, and become sexually mature at 2 years. Pregnancy usually lasts -90 days. The female gives birth to one blind pup weighing 40-50 g. The female independently feeds the cub in a hole for up to a month, not letting the male to him. The cub is a small copy of adults, it is covered with wool of the same color as the female. The baby's eyes open on the 4th-7th day, and on the 12th-14th day he begins to walk. From a month of age, the female begins to feed the cub with solid animal food, although lactation lasts up to 2.5-3 months. Young Mungo leaves his parents when he reaches the age of two.
Ring-tailed mungoes sometimes attack poultry, causing discontent among the local population. But the tails of the mungo are used by some local tribes for cultural purposes.
At present, ring-tailed mungoes are listed in the IUCN International Red Book as a vulnerable species. The main threats to this species are habitat loss (deforestation), food competition with other Madagascar predators, wild cats and dogs. The total area of the modern range of the ring-tailed mungo is about 650,000 ha; over the past decade, the number of species has decreased by 20%.
Within the ring-tailed mungo species, three subspecies of Galidia elegans are currently recognized: the eastern subspecies G. e. elegans, found in eastern tropical forests, western subspecies - G. e. occidentalis, which lives in deciduous forests in the central and western parts of the island, and the northern subspecies - G. e. dambrensis - living in the north of the island. It is assumed that the ancestors of the ring-tailed mungo appeared on about. Madagascar about 45 million years ago in the Eocene era.
Appearance and habitat
Malagasy ring-tailed mongoose or ring-tailed mungo (Galidia elegans) found in the tropical rainforests of Madagascar, mainly in the western, central and northern parts of the island. The ring-tailed mongoose is relatively small: its body length varies from 32 to 38 cm, its tail reaches 32 cm, weight is from 700 to 900 g. These animals have a long, thin body, a small head with a sharply pointed muzzle and small, widely spaced, round ears . The paws of this animal are thin and short. Compared to other mongooses, it has shorter fingers with long smooth non-retractable claws. The paw pads of the ring-tailed mungo are large, smooth and bare (without hair), there are small swimming membranes between the fingers. The coloring of these animals is bright: a reddish-brown hair from head to tail, legs - black or dark brown. Their tail is fluffy with alternating rings of black and red - hence the name of the species came from - the ring-tailed mongoose. Males are heavier than females; they have odorous glands located in the genital area.
Mungoes are active during daylight hours, but activity peaks occur in the early morning and before dusk. These agile and playful animals climb trees (where birds hunt) perfectly and swim perfectly, but spend most of the time on the ground. They climb the trees head up, and descend from the tree - head down. The weight and size of these mongooses allows them to climb thin (about 4 cm in diameter) vertical branches. At night they sleep in shelters - hollow trees, logs or in holes that they dig themselves. Accommodations are constantly changing to get rid of parasites. Mungoes hide from enemies in burrows, which they dig with incredible speed. These animals are kept singly, in pairs or family groups, which can include up to 5 individuals. When the group moves in front, the female usually goes, the cubs in the middle, and the male closes this procession. The groups are territorial, the size of their individual plots is usually 20-25 ha. At the borders of the territory, males make “scratches” (they tear off the bark of trees or shrubs with claws) and leave fragrant marks, putting a secret of odorous glands on stones and tree trunks. The meeting of two neighboring groups is often accompanied by aggression.
Eats ringtail mungo mainly small mammals (rodents, insectivores, mouse lemurs), birds and their clutches, amphibians and reptiles, fish, as well as large invertebrates (crabs and crayfish, snails, millipedes, insects and their larvae), sometimes eats fruits and fruits. Catching prey, the mongoose usually kills it with one quick bite in the neck. Ring-tailed mungoes are very talkative - when they talk to each other, they whistle, during the fight they growl, scream and grumble, catching their prey - they meow like cats, and when they are alarmed, they moan.
Pregnancy in ring-tail mungo lasts from 52 to 90 days, after which the female gives birth to one blind pup weighing 40-50 g. His eyes open for 4-7 days, and on 12-14 days he is already able to move. The female feeds the baby with milk for 2.5-3 months, and at the age of one month she begins to feed him solid food. When the young Mungo reaches the age of two, he leaves his parents. Around the same time, he reaches puberty. The life expectancy in captivity of the ring-tailed mongoose is about 30 years, in nature, presumably, two times less.
Over the past 10 years, the number of ring-tailed mungo has decreased by 20% - the reasons for this are the reduction and degradation of the habitat and competition among wild dogs, cats and Indian civet.
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