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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

The Pygmy skunk is a small carnivore endemic to the tropical Pacific Coast of Mexico, from Sinaloa south to Oaxaca (Medellín et al., 1998). The species is found from 0-1630 meters, but is most common below 350 m.
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Geographic Range

The pygmy spotted skunk occupies a very small range along the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The spotted skunk is the most weasel-like of the three main skunk genus. It has a smaller, more slender body and a finer coat then it's closest relatives. Pygmy spotted skunks reach a length of 115-345 mm with a tail of 70-120 mm. It has a beatiful, rich black coat with characteristic white markings on its forehead and 2-6 white stripes over its back and sides. The stripes break into spots over the hindquarters. The tail is often tipped in white, although no two patterns are alike

Like all skunks, they posses two grape sized scent gland on either side of the anus.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Spilogale pygmaea inhabits deciduous tropical forest, semi-evergreen forest, and desert scrub (Ceballos and Miranda, 1986). One specimen was obtained in coastal sand dunes with only herbaceous vegetational cover (López-Forment and Urbano, 1979). Although most individuals have been found in undisturbed habitats, they are capable of penetrating into agricultural zones and pastures (Ceballos and Miranda, 1986). Altitudinal distribution is usually 0-100 m above sea level (Van Gelder, 1959). The mean home range was 20.4 ha with male home ranges larger than those of females (Cantú-Salazar et al., 1999). Spilogale pygmaea is a noctumal species that makes dens underground or in fallen logs, among rocks, or simply under dense vegetation cover. Food habits consist of insects, spiders, birds, eggs, small mammals, and some fruit and seeds (Ceballos and Miranda, 1986).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Pygmy Spotted Skunks inhabit wooded or brushy habitats with rocky soil. They avoid dense forest and wetlands. They den in burrows or may seek refuge in trees

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Omnivore. Spotted skunks are the most carnivorous of the skunks. The pygmy spotted skunk feeds on insects, fruit, and berries in the summer months and hunts smaller mamals, birds, and reptiles during the winter. They may climb trees in pursuit of prey and sometimes raid hen houses for eggs.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Pygmy spotted skunks mate in September or October but implatation is delayed until March or April. The embryonic development only lasts 28-31 days, for a total pregnancy of 230-250 days. Females give birth to 3-6 young per litter in the early spring (litters may be as small as 2 or as large as 9). The young attain adult coloration after 21 days, open their eyes at 32 days, can spray musk at46 days, and are weaned before 2 months, They reach adult size at 15 weeks and become sexually mature in less than a year. The young disperse in the fall but may spend the winter with their mother in a communal den.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2c

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Cuarón, A.D. & Helgen, H.

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Vulnerable due to an ongoing population reduction estimated to be greater than 30% over the past 3 generations (suspected to be 15 years) inferred from rates of habitat loss. The species has a limited and discontinuous range in a area of Mexico which is developing rapidly, and is threatened as a result of human activities related to tourism development. Although the species occurs in a variety of habitats and it is able to survive under human-disturbed conditions - in these same areas dogs and cats present a threat.
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IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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Population

Population
Spilogale pygmaea is a scarce species, but seems to be able to survive under human-disturbed conditions if enough habitat is preserved (Schreiber et al., 1989).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The rapidly expanding tourist developments occurring in the small range of S. pygmaea along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, together with its discontinuous distribution along the coastline, are probably having a negative effect on this species (Ceballos and Navarro, 1991). Some individuals are stuffed and sold as souvenirs in stores at Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico (Medellín pers. comm.). The great pressure to develop the west coast of Mexico for resorts, roads, and tourist cities is currently destroying much of the habitat of this as well as other endemic species of Mexico (Dinerstein et al., 1995; Ramamoorthy et al. 1993). Dogs and cats will prey on this species around human populations.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species is considered vulnerable (Ceballos and Navarro, 1991) and listed since 1994 as threatened by the federal governrnent of Mexico. Its presence in protected areas has been confirmed in the recently decreed, Cuixrnala Biosphere reserve, which is continuous with the Chamela Reserve of the National University of Mexico, located on the coast of Jalisco (Medellín et al., 1998).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Aside from the occasionnal interaction with domesticated dogs, and other large domestic mammals skunks have little to do with the everyday lives of humans. They may occasionally raid henhouses. Skunks do carry rabies.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Pygmy Spotted Skunks feeds on insects and other rodent pests, aiding agriculture. They were trapped for their pelts to some degree.

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Wikipedia

Pygmy spotted skunk

The pygmy spotted skunk (Spilogale pygmaea) is a species of mammal in the Mephitidae family. It is endemic to Mexico.

Contents

Distribution and habitat

The pygmy skunk inhabits along the Pacific coast of Mexico. It is found in woodlands and thickets in rocky soil. They avoid dense forests and swamps. It dens in burrows, but can take refuge in trees.[3]

Description

The spotted skunks are the most similar to the weasels of the skunks. It has a slimmer body, and tail coat thinner smaller than their close relatives. It reaches a length of 115–345 mm with a tail of 70–120 mm. Its coat has a black background with white spots on the forehead and characteristics of 2-6 white stripes on the back and flanks. The bands become spots on the back later. The tip of the tail is often white. Like all skunks, it has two large scent glands in the perianal region.[3]

Behavior

The mating season occurs in September or October, but the delayed implantation of the embryo lasts until March or April of the next year. Embryonic development takes 28–31 days for a total duration of 230–250 days (counted from the moment of fertilization). Females give birth between 3-6 cubs per litter. Juveniles get their final color after 21 days, open their eyes at 32 days, can spray musk at 46 days and are weaned after two months. They reach adult size at 15 weeks and reach sexual maturity in time to participate in the mating season after their birth. The young disperse in the fall, but can pass the winter with their mothers in a communal den.[3]

This skunk is omnivorous, however, is the most carnivorous of the family. It feeds mainly on insects, fruits, berries in the summer months, and hunts small mammals, birds, and reptiles during the winter. They can climb trees in pursuit of their prey and sometimes venturing into hen houses to take eggs.[3]

Juveniles have seen accompanying their mothers in their nocturnal hunting trips. These skunks often share large nests during winter, but will not hibernate. The species is strictly nocturnal . The first reaction in case of threat is to flee. When cornered, it becomes aggressive, bristling and raising its tail to appear larger. Can stand on its front legs and advance in that position against their attacker. If the threat persists, it returns to standing on four legs and folds back on itself in a U shape, pointing its tail at its enemy. That is when it sprays its odorous excretion to say goodbye to its opponent.[3]

Conservation

The IUCN Red List species is classified as a vulnerable species due to the progressive reduction of its population, up to 30% over three generations (15 years) inferred by the percentage of habitat loss. This species has a restricted and discontinuous habitat in an area of Mexico in open development is threatened as a result of the activities related to tourism development. The species inhabits a variety of habitats and can survive under conditions of human intervention in these areas, but dogs and cats pose a threat.[2]

References

  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14001591.
  2. ^ a b Cuarón AD & Helgen H (2008). Spilogale pygmaea. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
  3. ^ a b c d e Bradley David Gay (1999). "Spilogale pygmaea". Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Spilogale_pygmaea.html. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
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