Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The small Sulawesi cuscus lives in the hollows of trees, from where it can get easy access to forage in the forest canopy (3). It feeds primarily on fruit and is most active during the night (2) (3) (5). Unlike most species within the Phalangeridae, which are thought to be promiscuous, the small Sulawesi cuscus forms monogamous pairs (2) (3). However, all members of the family are thought to share similar reproductive traits, with the adult female producing one to two litters per year. Out of three to four, small, un-furred young that are born following a gestation period of just 20 days, only one will usually be reared. This infant will only exit the pouch after being weaned at around five to eight months (3).
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Description

The small Sulawesi cuscus is a diminutive, possum-like marsupial, with soft, pale buff fur (2) (3). In common with the 22 other species of cuscus and possum that comprise the family Phalangeridae, the small Sulawesi cuscus has a short face, with protruding eyes and a naked nose (2) (4). The feet have five digits, all of which are strongly clawed, except for the big toes of the hind feet. The un-clawed big toes are opposable to the remaining toes of the hind feet, as are the first two toes of the forefeet to the other three (2) (3). This enables the cuscus to firmly grip branches, which, in addition to having a long prehensile tail, makes the small Sulawesi cuscus an excellent tree climber (3) (4). The female cuscus has a well developed pouch that opens to the front and conceals two to four nipples (2).
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Distribution

Strigocuscus celebensis occurs exclusively on Sulawesi and surrounding islands. Subspecies of S. celebensis occur throughout this range: S. c. celebensis is found in southern and central Sulawesi, S. c. feileri is found in north Sulawesi, and S. c. sangirensis is found on the Sangihe Islands north of Sulawesi.

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

  • 2004. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Pp. 57-64 in D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Possums and Cuscuses, Vol. 13 / Mammals II, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group Inc..
  • Flannery, T. 1994. Possums of the World: A Monograph of the Phalangeroidea. Chatswood, Australia: GEO Productions Pty Ltd.
  • Groves, C. 1987. Possums and Opossums: Studies in Evolution. Sydney: Surrey Beatty & Sons and the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Accessed November 27, 2006 at http://arts.anu.edu.au/grovco/Marsup.htm.
  • Ruedas, L., J. Morales. 2005. Evolutionary Relationships Among Genera of Phalangeridae (Metatheria: Diprotodontia) Inferred from Mitochondrial DNA. Journal of Mammalogy, 86 / 2: 353-365.
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Range Description

This species occurs on the islands of Sulawesi, Sangihe, and Siau, in the western Moluccan Islands of Indonesia.
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Range

Endemic to Indonesia, this cuscus occurs only on Sulawesi and the nearby islands of Sangihe, Siau and Muna (1) (2).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Little Celebes cuscuses have an overall pale buff coloration, lacking a dorsal stripe, and the tail is partially naked part. They are small possums, weighing 1 kg or less. Head and body length is 294 to 380 mm and tail length is 270 to 373 mm. The rostrum is narrower than other phalangerids, the lachrymal is retracted from the face, the ectotympanic is almost totally excluded from the anterior face of the postglenoid process, and the third upper premolar is set at a more oblique angle relative to the molar row than it is in other phalangerids. Little Celebes cuscuses are also characterized by the large size of the third upper premolar, a widening of the zygomatic arches at the orbits, and short paroccipital processes.

Average mass: 1 kg.

Range length: 294 to 380 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Ecology

Habitat

Strigocuscus celebensis occurs in rainforests and in secondary forests and gardens around human dwellings.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

Other Habitat Features: suburban ; agricultural

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Ground Cuscuses. Pp. 91-92 in Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 1, Sixth Edition. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This nocturnal species, of primary, and occasionally, secondary tropical lowland moist forest. It is a folivorous species that is usually found in pairs.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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An arboreal animal, the small Sulawesi cuscus typically inhabits primary, and sometimes secondary, tropical lowland forest (1).
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Trophic Strategy

Little Celebes cuscuses are presumed to be primarily frugivorous, based on their morphology and the diet of other cuscuses. Other species of cuscus include leaves, fruits, flowers, bark, pollen, and fungi in their diets.

Plant Foods: leaves; roots and tubers; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit; pollen; flowers

Other Foods: fungus

Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )

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Associations

Because of their frugivorous diet S. celebensis help the ecosystem by dispersing seeds.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

Mutualist Species:

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Little information is known on possible predators of S. celebensis. It is assumed they have a limited number due to their arboreal lifestyle. Other species of cuscus are eaten by humans and New Guinea singing dogs.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Little is known about communication in Little Celebes cuscuses. Like most nocturnal mammals they are likely to use chemical cues (smells) and hearing extensively. Cuscuses have large eyes to help them see in low light.

Communication Channels: chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

The lifespan of S. celebensis is unknown. Other species of cuscus are known to live 3 to 11 years in captivity.

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Reproduction

Little Celebes cuscuses are monogamous and occur in pairs.

Mating System: monogamous

Female S. celebensis have a forward-oriented pouch with two to four teats. Little Celebes cuscuses generally produce one to two litters per year, up to three to four young may be born, but only one is usually reared. Gestation is 20 days or less and young are born very small and unfurred.

Breeding interval: Little Celebes cuscuses generally produce one to two litters per year.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 4.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average gestation period: 20 days.

Range weaning age: 5 to 8 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Infant S. celebensis exit their mother's pouch between five and eight months after birth, after which they are carried on their mother’s back.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • 2004. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Pp. 57-64 in D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Possums and Cuscuses, Vol. 13 / Mammals II, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group Inc..
  • Flannery, T. 1994. Possums of the World: A Monograph of the Phalangeroidea. Chatswood, Australia: GEO Productions Pty Ltd.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Ground Cuscuses. Pp. 91-92 in Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 1, Sixth Edition. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

The status of S. celebensis is uncertain. According to IUCN  S. celebensis is data deficient, there is not enough information to determine population status.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A4cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Helgen, K., Aplin, K., Dickman, C. & Salas, L.

Reviewer/s
Lamoreux, J. & Hilton-Taylor, C. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Vulnerable because of an ongoing population decline of more than 30% over a ten year window of time (5 years in the past and 5 in the future), inferred from probable levels of over-exploitation, and rates of deforestation on Sulawesi.

History
  • 1996
    Data Deficient
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).
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Population

Population
The population abundance of this species is not known.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
It is threatened by hunting for food and deforestation of habitat due to clearance for agriculture and clear-cutting for timber.
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Hunting of the small Sulawesi cuscus for food, and deforestation due to agriculture and logging, are the most significant threats to this species. Given the rate at which habitat is being lost and the probable extent to which this species is over-exploited, it is likely that its population is declining significantly (1).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is nominally protected by Indonesia law. It is not known if it is present in any protected areas. Further studies into the distribution, natural history, and threats to this species are needed.
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Conservation

In the absence of recent surveys, it is unclear how rapidly the small Sulawesi cuscus population is declining or indeed even what the size of the population is. Consequently, it is important that further surveys are carried out, so that a more detailed assessment can be made of its conservation status (1). While this species is technically protected by Indonesian law (1), the funding and human resources required to enforce the law are limited, particularly so in Sulawesi (6). Nonetheless, a Wildlife Crimes Unit, established by the Indonesian Department of Forestry and the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2001 to monitor wildlife trade in North Sulawesi, has been effective in reducing trade in some protected mammals (6) (7). The next step is to expand the Wildlife Crimes Unit to cover all of Sulawesi and to work with local communities to strengthen conservation awareness (7).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Little Celebes cuscuses are sometimes considered household pests. They tend to be found in suburban areas and are known to eat plants from gardens and to nest in roofs.

Negative Impacts: crop pest; household pest

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Little Celebes cuscuses are an important source of meat for people in New Guinea and are widely hunted. In some areas of Indonesia, such as the Sula Islands in the Western Moluccas, cuscuses are not eaten in accordance with religious beliefs. Little Celebes cuscuses help to disperse fruiting tree seeds.

Positive Impacts: food

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Wikipedia

Sulawesi dwarf cuscus

The Sulawesi dwarf cuscus (Strigocuscus celebensis) is a species of marsupial in the family Phalangeridae.[2] It is endemic to Sulawesi and nearby islands in Indonesia.

Source[edit]

  1. ^ Helgen, K., Aplin, K., Dickman, C. & Salas, L. (2008). Strigocuscus celebensis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as vulnerable
  2. ^ Groves, C. P. (2005). "Order Diprotodontia". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
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