Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The shy, secretive falanouc is a nocturnal and crepuscular animal, that is mainly solitary, although small groups have also been observed. They defend large territories, marking the area with scents secreted from glands around the anus and neck. Probably Madagascar's most specialised carnivore, the falanouc feeds almost exclusively on earthworms and other small invertebrates. Its elongated snout and tiny conical teeth are well adapted to foraging in leaf litter for this specialised diet, and its muscular forepaws and long claws enable it to easily dig up their invertebrate prey. After a night feeding, the falanouc spends the daylight hours sleeping under logs or in rock crevices (2). In July and August, courtship and mating takes place, resulting in females giving birth to a litter of one or two offspring after a three month gestation period (2) (5). The young are exceptionally well-developed and are born fully furred, with their eyes open, and weighing around 150 grams. At just two days old, the young are able to follow their mother as she searches for food, and at nine weeks the young are weaned (2). In autumn, up to 800 grams of fat accumulates in the tail of the falanouc, a strategy to ensure its survival through the cooler, drier winter months of June and July, when food is scarce. It has been suggested that the falanouc may hibernate in the winter, although active falanouc have been observed during this time (5).
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Description

This rare and secretive mammal, found only in Madagascar, has caused taxonomists problems for many years (4). While the falanouc is a carnivore, and in appearance resembles a mongoose, its conical teeth so strongly resemble those of insectivores it was once classed as one (5). Slightly larger than a domestic cat, the falanouc has a stocky body with a small, delicate head, large ears and elongated snout. Its fur is soft and dense and the longer hairs on the fat, cylindrical tail give it a rather bushy appearance. Two subspecies of the falanouc are recognised; the eastern falanouc (Eupleres goudotii goudotti) has light brown or fawn upperparts with russet spots and tinges around the thighs and pale grey-brown underparts. The western falanouc (Eupleres goudotii major), which may be 25 to 50 percent larger, has grey to rufous brown upperparts, with greyer fur on the head and tail. The forepaws and impressive claws of the falanouc are well developed for digging (2).
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Falanouc (Eupleres goudotii)

The Falanouc has a head and body length of 450-650 mm, a tail length of 220-250 mm and weighs 2-4 kg. It is slightly larger than a domestic cat. The relatively stocky, low body has a small, narrow, delicate head, large ears and elongated, pointed snout. The soft, dense underfur is covered by long guard hairs. The longer hairs on the wide, cylindrical tail give it a bushy appearance. The short homodont teeth have a large single cusp, more closely resembling insectivore teeth than the shearing-crushing teeth of most carnivores. The flat premolars and molars curve backwards. Fat is stored in the tail for use during periods of low food abundance. The forepaws and impressive, non-retractile claws are well developed for digging (2). The falanouc lacks anal or perineal glands (unlike the fanaloka). This species has been recorded from Madagascar's eastern, northwestern and western coastal forests from sea level to 1,025 m (3). It occurs in wetlands or near wetlands in dense humid, lowland rainforests, dominated by Cyperaceae, Raphia, and Pandanus species (3) (east) or undisturbed areas of dry, deciduous forest found in the west (2,5) and is seldom found far from intact forest, but may be found in marshy areas. The eastern falanouc occurs from the Andohahela region in south-east Madagascar to the and Marojejy Massif in the north. The western falanouc ranges from the Tsaratanana Massif in the north-west, south to the northern limits of the Ankarafantsika area. Falanouc populations have also been found in the far north of the island (2). The shy, secretive falanouc is a largely solitary, nocturnal and crepuscular species, but diurnal activity and small groups have been seen. It defends large territories, marking the area with scents secreted from glands around the anus and neck. Itding, the falanouc spends the daylight hours sleeping under logs or in rock crevices and under similar ground cover (2). In April and May, the falanouc accumulates up to 800 g of fat in its tail. This helps it survive the cooler, drier winter months of June and July, when food is scarce. It has been suggested that the falanouc may hibernate in winter, but active falanouc have seen at this time (5). The falanouc uses its claws in self-defence, but does not bite. The falanouc is probably Madagascar's most specialised carnivore, feeding almost exclusively on earthworms, as well as slugs, snails, larvae and other small invertebrates (6), but it occasionally takes amphibians, insects or their larvae. Its elongate snout and insectivore-like teeth help it capture and process small invertebrate prey. It also uses its muscular forepaws and long claws to dig up prey while foraging in the leaf litter (3). In July and August, a brief courtship and mating period occurs. The one or two precocious young are born in a burrow from November-January after three months gestation. They weigh about 150 g at birth, are fully-furred and have open eyes. They can move with the mother through dense foliage when two days old. In nine weeks, the young eats solid food and soon leaves its mothers before the next mating season, when it weighs about 150 g (2,3). While it quickly gains mobility to follow its mother on forages, it grows at a slower rate than comparatively-sized carnivores.

The IUCN Red List Assessment in 1994 stated that this species was Near Threatened or Vulnerable. Over 10 years, the population reduction of this species, based on the impacts of habitat loss (given its mostly specialized diet and habitat needs) and widespread hunting and the effects of feral carnivores, is estimated at 20-25%, but could have been higher. Since 1996, it has been listed as Endangered (1). This is due to an increase of human impacts on Madagascar. Its numbers and distribution have declined due to deforestation to convert forest to cultivated land, logging, charcoal production, marsh drainage, hunting for food uses, predation by domestic dogs and cats and perhaps competition from the introduced Viverrricula indica, as well as hunting for its meat (5,6). Its range remains large, but it is very uncommon or rare throughout (6,7). Only in Amber Mountain and Andohahela National Parks are individuals seen regularly, but the falanouc occurs in other National Parks. In 1989, the IUCN/SSC Mustelid and Viverrid Specialist Group recommended conservation actions for the falanouc. These included improving the protection of reserves with falanouc populations, declaring marshlands as conservation areas and implementing complete, nationwide protection. The Group also recommended initiating an internationally-coordinated captive breeding program, but falanouc are very susceptible to stress and are hard to maintain in captivity (6). The falanouc has caused taxonomists problems for many years (4). It is a carnivore and resembles a mongoose, but its conical teeth so strongly resemble those of insectivores it was classed as one (5). It belongs to the family Eupleridae and is classified alongside its closest living relative, the fanaloka, in the subfamily Euplerinae (2). There are two subspecies: the eastern falanouc (E.g. goudotti) has light brown or fawn upperparts with russet spots and tinges around the thighs and pale grey-brown underparts. The western falanouc (E.g. major) may be 25-50% larger and has grey to rufous brown upperparts, with greyer fur on the head and tail. Males are brownish while females are grayish.
  • 1. Hawkins, A.F.A. (2008). Eupleres goudotii. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • 2. 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.
  • 3. Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.
  • 4. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  • 5. Albignac, R. (1973). Mammiferes carnivores. Faune de Madagascar. ORSTOM/CNRS, Paris, France.
  • 6. Macdonald, D. (1992). The Velvet Claw. London: BBC Books.
  • 7. Schreiber, A., R. Wirth, M. Riffel and H. Van Rompaey (1989) Weasels, Civets, Mongooses, and their Relatives: An Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
  • Other References
  • Macdonald, David (ed). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. (New York, 1984)
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to Madagascar, where it has been recorded from the eastern, northwestern, and western forests. The elevational range is from sea level to 1,025 m.
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Geographic Range

The Falanouc is distributed throughout the costal forests of northwestern and eastern Madagascar (Garbutt, 1999).

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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Range

The falanouc is endemic to Madagascar. The eastern falanouc occurs from the Andohahela region in south-east corner of the island, to the Marojejy Massif in the north. The western falanouc has a smaller distribution that ranges from the Tsaratanana Massif in the north-west, south to the northern limits of the Ankarafantsika area. Falanouc populations have also been found in the far north of the island but which of the two subspecies these populations represent has not yet been determined (2).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The Falanouc has a head and body length of 450-650 mm and a tail length of 220-250 mm (Albignac 1974 as stated in Nowak 1999). It has homodont teeth that are short and with a large single cusp, more closely resembling insectivore teeth than the shearing-crushing teeth of most carnivores. Its head is narrow and small with a pointed muzzle. The body is relatively stocky and large (larger than a domestic cat). It has a distictive wide cylindrical tail where fat is stored for use during periods of low food abundance. The underfur is dense and covered by long gaurd hairs. The Eastern Falanouc, Eupleres goudotii goudotii, has a fawn colored dorsum with a lighter belly. In the Western Falanouc, E. g. major, males are brownish while females are grayish (Garbutt 1999; Nowak 1999).

Range mass: 2 to 4 kg.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in wetlands or near wetlands within either dense humid rainforests (east) or dry deciduous forests (west) (Albignac 1973). It is a largely solitary, nocturnal and crepuscular species; although diurnal sightings have been recorded, animals generally spend the day under logs, in crevices and under similar ground cover. The species feeds almost exclusively on earthworms, but occasionally takes amphibians, insects or their larvae. The females give birth to one or two young, which are very well developed at birth. Seldom found far from intact forest.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The Falanouc lives in humid, lowland forests dominated by Cyperaceae, Raphia, and Pandanus species (Garbutt, 1999) although details of the habitat range of either subspecies are poorly known (Nowak 1999).

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

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The eastern falanouc inhabits the dense, humid rainforests of eastern Madagascar, while the western falanouc is found in undisturbed areas of dry, deciduous forest found in the west. Falanouc have also been recorded in marshes (2).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The Falanouc's diet consists almost exclusively of earthworms and other small invertebrates (Macdonald 1992). Its elongate snout and insectivore-like teeth contribute to its specialization of the capture and processing of small invertebrate prey. It also uses its long claws to dig up prey while foraging in the leaf litter (Garbutt 1999).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Mating takes place in July and August and offspring are born between November and January. The mother gives birth to one or two precocious young. The offspring weigh approximately 150 g at birth and their eyes are already open. Within two days of birth, the young are able to follow their mother during foraging. They are weaned when they are nine weeks old (Garbutt 1999).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Hawkins, A.F.A.

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

Contributor/s

Justification
Over the last 10 years, the population reduction of this species based on the combined impacts of habitat loss (especially given its mostly specialized diet and habitat requirements) and widespread hunting and the effects of feral carnivores, is estimated at 20-25%. The loss could be higher, although there is no current comprehensive data to support this. Almost qualifies as threatened under criterion A2cd.

History
  • 2000
    Endangered
  • 1996
    Endangered
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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The falanouc's endangered status is due to the recent increase of human impacts on Madagascar. Their numbers and distribution have declined due to deforestation, marsh drainage, hunting for food uses, and predation by domestic dogs. It is also suspected that competition from the introduced Viverrricula indica has contributed to the falanouc's decline. Although its range remains large, it is rare throughout (Shreiber et al. 1989 as stated in Nowak 1999).

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3). Subspecies Eupleres goudotii goudotti (eastern falanouc) and Eupleres goudotii major (western falanouc) are classified as Endangered (EN) (1).
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Population

Population
This species is very uncommon across its range, and is seldom found using standard trapping techniques, which could be due to its specialized diet of earthworms. Only in Amber Mountain National Park and Andohahela National Park have individuals been seen regularly.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The major threats to this species are deforestation of its habitat through conversion of forest to cultivated land, logging and charcoal production. It appears that this species is also selectively hunted for its meat by local people (Schneider 1989). Further studies are needed to quantify the impact of this hunting on Eupleres populations. Where present, predation by feral cats and dogs threaten this species, especially on the periphery of forests.
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The impacts of a number of threats have resulted in a reduction in falanouc numbers and distribution (5). The most significant threat, and cause of these declines, is habitat destruction; deforestation has left little undisturbed forest in Madagascar and marshes are increasingly being drained. Predation by domestic dogs is also impacting populations, as is hunting, as the meat of the falanouc is highly desired by the local human population (6).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on Appendix II of CITES. It has been recorded from a number of protected areas, including Maningoza Special Reserve, Andohahela National Park, Ankarafansika National Park, Baie de Baly National Park, Montagne d'Ambre National Park and Ranomafana National Park. Further studies into the ecology, distribution, taxonomy and exploitation of this little-known species are needed.
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Conservation

Despite these threats, the falanouc remains widespread in suitable habitat, although nowhere is it common (6). It occurs in a number of national parks including Ranomafana, Masoala, Mantadia, Verezanantsoro and Montagne d'Ambre (2). In 1989, the IUCN published a conservation action plan in which the IUCN/SSC Mustelid and Viverrid Specialist Group recommended a number of conservation actions for the falanouc. These included improvement of the protection of the reserves which have falanouc populations, a declaration of marshlands as conservation areas, and implementing complete, nationwide protection. The initiation of an internationally-coordinated captive breeding program was also recommended, but falanouc are very susceptible to stress, and thus difficult to maintain in captivity (6). The implementation of any of these measures, to ensure the survival of this unusual and endangered carnivore, is yet to be seen.
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Wikipedia

Falanouc

The falanouc (Eupleres goudotii) is a rare mongoose-like mammal endemic to Madagascar and classified in the carnivoran family Eupleridae.[2]

It is classified alongside its closest living relative, Eupleres major, recognized only in 2010, in the genus Eupleres.[3] The falanouc has several peculiarities. It has no anal or perineal glands (unlike its second closest relative, the fanaloka), nonretractile claws, and a unique dentition: the canines and premolars are backwards-curving and flat. This is thought to be related to its prey, mostly invertebrates, such as worms, slugs, snails, and larvae.

It lives primarily in the lowland rainforests of eastern Madagascar, while E. major is found in northwest Madagascar. It is solitary and territorial, but whether nocturnal or diurnal is unknown. It is small (about 50 cm long with a 24 cm long tail) and shy (clawing, not biting, in self-defence). It most closely resembles the mongooses with its long snout and low body, though its colouration is plain and brown (most mongooses have colouring schemes such as striping, banding, or other variations on the hands and feet).

Its life cycle displays periods of fat buildup during April and May, before the dry months of June and July. It has a brief courting period and weaning period, the young being weaned before the next mating season. Its reproductive cycle is fast. The offspring (one per litter) are born in burrows with opened eyes and can move with the mother through dense foliage at only two days old. In nine weeks, the already well-developed young are on solid food and shortly thereafter they leave their mothers. Though it is fast in gaining mobility (so as to follow its mother on forages), it grows at a slower rate than comparatively-sized carnivorans.

"Falanoucs are threatened by habitat loss, humans, dogs and an introduced competitor, the small Indian civet (Viverricula indica)."[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hawkins, A.F.A. (2008). Eupleres goudotii. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 21 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of near threatened
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Goodman, S. M.; Helgen, K. M. (2010-02-25). "Species limits and distribution of the Malagasy carnivoran genus Eupleres (Family Eupleridae)". Mammalia 74 (2): 177–185. doi:10.1515/mamm.2010.018.  edit
  4. ^ Smithsonian Institution. Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. New York: DK Publishing, 2009, p. 205.

Sources[edit]

  • Macdonald, David (ed). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. (New York, 1984)
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