Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is present in DR Congo, Tanzania (including Mafia and Zanzibar), south-eastern Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, south-eastern Zimbabwe, north-eastern Angola, and north-eastern South Africa (Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal provinces). Although some generalized distribution maps for this species show the northern form, P. t. tordayi, crossing the Ubangi or Congo rivers into Congo, there is no indication that it actually occurs north of these rivers (Corbet and Neal 1965; Corbet and Hanks 1968). Although P. t. tetradactylus has been reported from the Caprivi Strip of Namibia, apparently there are no confirmed records.
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Geographic Range

The 15 species of Elephant shrews are restricted to Africa (Nicoll and Rathbun 1990). The four toed elephant shrew is found in Central and East Africa from Northern Natal to Kenya and Northwest to the Congo river (Grizmeck 1990). It is also found on the Zanzibar and Mafia Islands (Nowak 1999).

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

This elephant shrew has four toes on the hind foot as opposed to five, hence its common name. The animal is quite beautiful. Its grey to sandy fur is rather long and soft, and it has a touch of orange and yellow hues, sometimes with a wide dark strip on its back and white rings around the eyes. It is named, along with its relatives, for its long trunklike flexible nose used to find a variety of invertebrate prey hiding among the vegetation. However, unique to this species are the long skinny legs that hold the body 3 to 4 cm from the ground.

Elephant shrews are small mammals ranging in weight from 45 to 540 grams. However, the four-toed elephant shrew is one of the largest of the elephant shrews weighing 160 to 280 grams. Its body length ranges from 19 to 23 cm and its tail ranges from 15.5 to 17 cm (Grizmek 1990).

Range mass: 160 to 280 g.

Average mass: 205 g.

Range length: 19 to 23 cm.

Average basal metabolic rate: 0.852 W.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Forest, dense woodlands, and thickets (Jennings and Rathbun 2001), where animals probably form monogamous pairs (FitzGibbon 1995).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Sometimes this animal is found in rocky areas, but usually it prefers thickets and dense forest undergrowth in caesalpinoid forests and woodlands (Kingdon 1997).

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; scrub forest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The long elephant-like snout enables these mammals to find insects within the dense forests of Africa. Termites and ants are preferred. In general, insects make up the largest portion of the diet of this elephant shrew but they eat some plant material as well (Rathbun 1979).

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Associations

Predation

This species is probably hunted by small carnivores, hawks owls and snakes. Avoidance of predators is most likely the reason for their choice of habitat. They are preyed upon by humans, who seek them to eat

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Petrodromus tetradactylus is prey of:
Homo sapiens

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

It is not known specifically for this species, but the average life span of elephant shrews in general in the wild is up to 4 years (Grizmek's 1990).

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Pregnant females tend to abort in captivity and so there are only limited longevity studies. One wild born specimen was about 7.2 years of age when it died in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Mating System: monogamous

Monogamy is rare in mammals, but is well represented in this order. Most likely an abundance of resources and a monagamous mating sysem suggests a year round mating system.

Average birth mass: 31 g.

Average number of offspring: 1.2.

The actual gestation period for this species is unknown but the range for other elephant shrews is 42 to 65 days. What is known for the four-toed elphant shrew is that there is one, sometimes two, young at birth that weigh about 32 grams (Grizmek 1990).The young are born in a highly precocial state, which allows them to run as fast as adults soon after birth (Nicoll and Rathbun 1990). Timing of weaning and sexual maturity is also unknown for this species but the range for weaning is 14 to 25 days and sexual maturity is 35 to 50 days for other elephant shrews (Grizmek 1990).

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

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
FitzGibbon, C., Perrin, M., Stuart, C. (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group) & Smit, H. (Stellenbosch University)

Reviewer/s
Rathbun, G. (Afrotheria Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This sengi is the second most widespread species, occurring from central and eastern Africa south to the northeastern corner of South Africa. It occupies true forest habitats, dense woodlands, scrub, and riparian areas. It is also able to live in fallow agricultural areas that have suitable cover and leaf litter, invertebrates for food. Although habitat destruction and subsistence hunting may be a problem in localized areas, overall this sengi faces minimal threats. The species is listed as Least Concern.

History
  • 2006
    Least Concern
    (IUCN 2006)
  • 2006
    Least Concern
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/least concern
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
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There is little known about the threats facing this elephant shrew, unlike the cases of 7 other macroscelidid species ranging from vulnerable to endangered listed by the IUCN as of 2001. However, habitat modification in their areas of the forests of Africa may be a problem in the future. The good news for this particular elephant shrew is that, since its geographic range is greater than some of its relatives, the risks of becoming endangered are not as high at this time. However, in order to preserve the species deforestation must be minimized, directly affecting the local people of the region and their need to make room for more agricultural lands. The future depends on the establishment of protected areas within these integrated rural land developments, which aim to be beneficial to both the biological diversity and the needs of the local people (Nicoll and Rathbun 1990).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
Although widespread, the species is only locally common.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats. In coastal Kenya, FitzGibbon et al. (1995) estimated that the subsistence take for food is sustainable.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species occurs in protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Insects being the main portion of the diet of these animals, they are probably important in helping to control pest populations. This may in turn help neighboring farm crops.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Four-toed elephant shrew

The four-toed elephant shrew or four-toed sengi is the only living species in the genus Petrodromus, which together with three other extant genera Rhynchocyon, Macroscelides and Elephantulus constitutes the order Macroscelidea.[1] This species is only found in particular regions in Africa and is smaller in size compared to its relatives.[3] A comprehensive recording of this species is lacking.[1]

As its name suggests, the species has four toes on its hind feet,[4] and like other elephant shrews, it has been named for its elephant-like, mobile proboscis.[5]

Geographic location and habitat[edit]

The four-toed elephant shrew is located in Central and Southern East Africa, notably in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and possibly Namibia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, montane forests, and moist savannas lowland forests. [2] Throughout these countries, they are the second most widespread species, following the short-snouted elephant shrew.[2][3]

Specifically, they thrive in dense forests (notably in dense evergreen growths), woodlands and thickets,[6] with suitable cover and protection, as well as invertebrates for food.[2] In these areas, they are the second most common species.[2] During the night, they prefer to sleep under dense brush (as opposed to a nest).[4]

In some areas, their habitats are being destroyed and four-toed elephant shrews are being hunted, but their conservation status is of least concern.

[2]

Physical characteristics[edit]

A four-toed elephant shrew has long, soft fur and its color varies from greyish pale brown to dark brown with white rings around its eyes, and wide dark stripes on its back.[7]

Markings of the four-toed elephant shrew vary in colour: the upper parts of its feet are brownish-yellow; its ears are dark brown, with pure white hair on the base of the inner margin; the tail is black on the upper side and pale yellow-brown on the underside, darkening in the middle and almost black at tip.[2] The four-toed elephant shrew has a long, pointed, flexible and sensitive snout, which it uses to hunt.[8] It also has short forelimbs and long back limbs.[9]

The differences between the regular elephant shrew and the four-toed elephant shrew can be seen in facial features, body length and weight. Compared to the regular elephant shrew, which has small eyes and ears, a four-toed elephant shrew has broad, upstanding ears and large eyes. The elephant shrew generally varies in size from about 10 to 30 cm (3.9 - 11.8 in). [10] However, the body length of the four-toed elephant shrew is less variable, 19 to 23 cm (7.5 - 9.0 in).[4] Similarly, the tail length of the regular elephant shrew is 8.0 to 26.5 cm (3.2 - 10.4 in),[11] while tail length of the four-toed species is 15.5 to 17 cm (6.0 - 6.7 in).[4]

The elephant shrew is a small mammal weighing from 45 to 540 g (1.6 - 18.9 oz), while the four-toed elephant shrew is one of largest elephant shrews, weighing between 160 and 280 g (5.6 - 9.9 oz).[4]

Behaviour[edit]

The four-toed elephant shrew is mostly active during the day and early evening, whereas during the night or midday, it tends to be less active.[3] When the four-toed elephant shrew runs, its tail points upwards; it also makes a noise through its hind feet.[12] Ants react to this sound, which helps the four-toed elephant shrew to locate its prey.

When four-toed elephant shrews fight, they usually fight in pairs of the same gender. They fight in a "boxing" motion, supporting themselves on their rear legs and boxing with their front limbs to tackle one another.[3] Four-toed elephant shrews have good senses of sight, smell and hearing, but their vocal capacity is not well developed. In captivity, they make different kinds of sounds, such as screaming, purring or clucking for help.[3]

Diet[edit]

Four-toed elephant shrews are heavily dependent on rich leaf litter composition for their food and nests.[6] Their main prey are small invertebrates.[4] Ants and termites are most common, but they have been known to feed on crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, and earthworms. They also feed on seeds, fruits, buds, and other plant material. Four-toed elephant shrews eat much like anteaters; they flick small foods into their mouths.[6]

Based on where these four-toed elephant shrews live, their main diets can vary. In Kenya, their diets include termites, plant matter, centipedes, ants, crickets and cockroaches, millipedes, spiders, and other similar creatures.[3]

Some of the predators of the four-toed shrews are snakes, raptors, and carnivores, and in some cases, domestic cats.[3]

Reproduction[edit]

Depending on the quality of the habitat, four-toed elephant shrews breed throughout the year, showing an increase in reproduction when more feeding grounds are accessible.[10] The lowland forests and savannas offer shelter from the midday heat and resting places, as well as suitable birth places.[12] Copulation typically occurs on land, and they are monogamous in nature.[12] Their mating patterns involve sexual intercourse over several days, after which each mate returns to its single lifestyle.[10] The females in this species experience a period of gestation between 40 and 60 days and give birth to one or two offspring. The young are born in a highly developed state and are weaned by their mothers after 15–25 days; the young reach full sexual maturity close to 50 days after birth.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Schlitter, D. A. (2005). "Order Macroscelidea". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g FitzGibbon, C., Perrin, M., Stuart, C. & Smit, H. (2008). Petrodromus tetradactylus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Jennings, Mark (2001). Mammalian Species. American Society of Mammalogista. pp. 1–6. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The Animal Sites.com". Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Smithsonian National Zoological Park". Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "GVI Kenya". Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "Petrodromus tetradactylus: Four-toed Elephant Shrew". Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Four-Toed Elephant Shrew". Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Schütze, Heike (2002). Field guide to the mammals of the Kruger National Park. Cape Town: Struik,. p. 219. ISBN 9781868725946. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Macroscelidea -- betwixt an elephant and a shrew". University of Michigan. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Elephant Shrews". Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Smith, Mary Alice. "Animal Diversity Web". University of Michigan. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
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