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BiologyVery little is known about the natural ecology and behaviour of the Russian desman. They build nests on the banks of rivers and appear to be fairly gregarious, as eight individuals have been found in a single nest (2). Females produce two litters a year of three to five young, which are born in spring and autumn (2). Musk glands at the base of the tail are used to mark territories (4). Russian desmans are primarily nocturnal and catch their prey in the water, using their flexible snout to feel along the riverbed and also as a snorkel (3). They can stay underwater for up to five minutes between breaths (4). They eat a range of aquatic organisms such as fish, molluscs, insects, crustaceans and amphibians (2).