Restricted to remaining pockets of suitable forest in coastal Kenya.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Golden-rumped elephant shrews, like all elephant shrews, have a long, flexible snout. They are distinguished from other elephant shrews by their golden rump patch and grizzled gold forehead. There is an area of thickened skin (a dermal shield) under the rump patch. This dermal shield is thicker in males than in females and is thought to provide protection from the biting attacks of hostile males. The feet, ears, and legs are black. The tail is black, execpt the distal 1/3 which is white with a black tip. The fur is fine, stiff and glossy; the ears are naked; the tail is sparsely furred. All elephant shrews are semi-digitigrade (i.e. they walk on their finger/toe-tips). Golden-rumped elephant shrews have sexually dimorphic canines (6.6mm in males; 4.6mm in females). It is thought that males use these canines in attacks on other males during territory defense. Measurements: Total Length: 526mm; Tail: 243mm; Hind Foot: 74mm; Ear: 34mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average mass: 540 g.
Lives in moist, dense, coastal scrub forest and in lowland semi-deciduous forest along coastal Kenya.
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; scrub forest
Insectivorous. The elephant shrew uses its long, flexible nose to overturn leaf-litter where it finds and eats a wide variety of invertebrates including earthworms, millipedes, insects and spiders.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: wild: 4.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Golden-Rumped Elephant Shrews breed throughout the year. Females give birth to a single young after a 42 day gestation period. Young remain in the nest for two weeks and emerge fully weaned. After emerging, the young follows its mother on her foraging runs but becomes completely independent after about 5 days. The young remains on its parents' home range until it defines its own range (5-20 weeks post emergence). Elephant shrews live an average of 4-5 years.
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average birth mass: 80 g.
Average gestation period: 42 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 38 days.
IUCN: Vulnerable. The coastal forest where these animals live is being cleared for agriculture. They are protected in 44 hectares of the Gedi Historical Monument in Kenya.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Some northern Kenyans trap and eat Elephant Shrews.
Golden-rumped elephant shrew
The golden-rumped elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus) is the largest species in the African elephant shrew family. It is only found in the coastal Arabuko Sokoke National Park north of Mombasa in Kenya. Its name is derived from the conspicuous golden fur on its hindquarters, which contrasts strongly with its otherwise dark fur. On juveniles, the fur shows vestigial traces of the checkerboard pattern seen on another giant elephant shrew, the checkered elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon cirnei).
The golden-rumped elephant shrew lives on the forest floor of evergreen forests, rooting through the leaf litter for 80% of the waking day looking for grasshoppers, beetles, spiders and other small invertebrates.
The golden-rumped elephant shrew has evolved various strategies to avoid predators, particularly snakes (such as black mambas and cobras) and the southern banded snake-eagle. It is very fast, capable of running at 25 km/h. When it detects a predator within its escape distance, it will run. If, however, the predator is outside its escape distance, the elephant shrew will advertise its presence by slapping the leaf litter. This lets the predator know it has been seen. In the event of a chase or an ambush, the golden flash of fur will also often deflect the predator's attention away from the head and onto the rump, which has thickened skin. As a final precaution, each shrew maintains several nests.
The golden-rumped elephant shrew is classified as endangered because of its highly restricted and fragmented environment. It is also hunted for food by people and killed by feral dogs.
- 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.
- FitzGibbon, C. & G. Rathbun (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group). 2008. Rhynchocyon chrysopygus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 04 June 2013.
- Protection for 'weirdest' species. BBC. January 16, 2007. Accessed June 4, 2013.
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