Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose or vontsira fotsy (Galidictis fasciata)
This species is endemic to eastern tropical humid forests of Madagascar (8,9,13). It is widely distributed from the lowlands (@ 400 m to @ 700 m above sea level (5) with one record in montane forests at 1,500 m (6,7). It seems to be limited to forests on lateritic soils, but occasionally lives in degraded forest (12). It has been reported from the Mananara-Nord region in the north to the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale (RNI) d'Andohahela in the south.There is no firm evidence that it lives further north than the Marojejy Massif, which is south of the Masoala Peninsula in the extreme northeast of the island (3,4,6,7,10)
It is largely terrestrial and is most active at dawn, dusk and at night (9,13). It may climb in trees and on large, fallen logs (6,7). It lives in pairs (9). It probably uses a combination of tactile, visual, chemical and accoustic cues to deal with its environment and other members of the species (1). It feeds mainly on small rodents (13), but may also eat small lemurs, reptiles, amphibians and other vertebrates (9), possibly at or above its body weight, as well as insects and other invertebrates (1,3,6,9-11).
The animal probably breeds annually (1). A female captured in November did not show reproductive characteristics; males captured in October and late November did have scrotal testes volume of 1884 mm ((3,6,10). Garbutt (3) says the species is probably pair-bonded and hence monogamous; the sociality may extend to a mate and offspring. The lack of highly developed sexual dimorphism supports this possible mating system (3,6,10). The mother gives birth to one young in summer (3,6,9,10). She has two mammae and probably provides the young with shelter, milk and protection at least until the time of weaning or perhaps until it is sexually mature, at around 2 years (1,3,6,10).
In 2008, the animal's Red List category was assessed as 'Near Threatened,' as it is widely dispersed, but at low densities (5,8). Over the previous 10 years, the population reduction was estimated at 20-25%, due to human advancement into the forests, habitat loss and the effects of feral carnivores, such as dogs and cats and introduced Indian civets, which compete for food (2,8). In 1996 and 2000, the species was assessed as 'Vulnerable.' It has been recorded from a number of protected areas, including Marojejy, Masoala, Zahamena and Ranomafana National Parks.
There are two subspecies: G. f. fasciata has a bushier, bay or reddish-brown tail and 8-10 stripes; G. f. striata has a thinner, white tail and 5 stripes (9,13).
Broad-striped mongooses are found only in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar. These mongooses have been reported from the Mananara-Nord region in the north to the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale (RNI) d'Andohahela in the south. Other than second-hand reports, there is currently no firm evidence of Galidictis fasciata distribution further north than the Marojejy Massif, which is south of the Masoala Peninsula located in the extreme northeastern portion of the island.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
Broad-striped mongooses have nimble, low to the ground bodies. They are small to medium in size, comparable to American martens. They have short legs and long bushy tails. Their heads are long, slender and dorso-ventrally flattened with a pointed rostrum. Broad-striped mongooses may be confused with the introduced carnivore Viverricula indica which has similar coloration.
Galidictis fasciata can be identified by its distinctive grey-beige pelage extending to the under-belly. The body has about five longitudinal dark brown or black stripes that are broader than the creamy-beige spaces separating them, and continue from the nape dorsally to about one third the length of the tail. The top of the head is darker than the cheeks, chin and throat. The very distinctive tails are a creamy white. Ears are small and are covered with short, fine fur. The only other species of Galidictis, Galadictis grandidieri, has dark stipes which are narrower than the lighter spaces; the outermost portion of the ear lacks fur.
Various sources list weights between 500 and 800 grams, with a mean adult body mass of 605 grams. Length of head and body is 320 to 340 mm and tail length is 280 to 300 mm. Females are slightly smaller and lighter than males. Feet have longer digits, longer claws, and less webbing than other herpestids.
Range mass: 380 to 800 g.
Average mass: 605 g.
Range length: 550 to 640 mm.
Average length: 570 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Observations of the distribution of G. fasciata range from 440 meters to approximately 1500 meters elevation, from lowland to montane forest. Although mostly terrestrial, broad-striped mongooses have been observed climbing in trees, and on large, fallen logs.
Range elevation: 440 to 1500 m.
Average elevation: 810 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
It has been surmised that broad-striped mongooses feed largely on rodents, small lemurs, and even reptiles and amphibians. There isn't any strong evidence of G. fasciata eating lemurs. Also, it is suggested that they feed on invertebrates. Field studies of tropical forest carnivores may be difficult because of their nocturnal, often solitary habits, and difficulty in luring them into traps.
Animal Foods: mammals; amphibians; insects
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)
Because this species is so poorly studied, it is difficult to determine what role it plays within its ecosystem. As a predator, G. fasciata probably has some impact on prey populations. It may compete with other small carnivores, but details of such interactions are lacking.
It is not known whether G. fasciata is preyed upon or not.
Life History and Behavior
At this time, it is unknown how broad-striped mongooses communicate or perceive the environment. As mammals, it is likely that they use some combination of tactile, visual, chemical, and accoustic cues in dealing both with their environment and with each other.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Although accounts do exist of Galidictis species in captivity, these do not incorporate data from any extended period of time. Otherwise, little is known about the lifespan of broad-striped mongooses. Other Malagasy mongooses kept in captivity show a great variation in lifespan. A Malagasy ring-tailed mongoose is reported to have lived over 24 years in captivity. However, a Malagasy brown-tailed mongoose is reported to have lived only 4 years and 9 months. It is not known where in this spectrum of variation Galidictis species fall.
Currently, knowledge is lacking about the reproductive activities of G. fasciata. Garbutt (1999) suggests that these rarely seen animals are probably pair bonded, and so are likely to be monogamous. The lack of highly developed sexual dimorphism supports this possible mating system.
Seasonality and reproductive activity of G. fasciata and its close relative G. grandidieri are currently not known. A female captured in November did not show reproductive characteristics. It has been determined that the maximum number of mammae is two. Males captured in October and late November did have scrotal testes volume of 1884 mm. This species has been observed to have a maximum litter size of one.
Other herpestids found on Madagascar may provide some clues about the reproduction of this rarely seen mammal. Malagasy ring-tailed mongooses breed seasonally, from April until November. Young are born between July and February, after a gestation of 79 to 92 days. Conversely, Malagasy narrow-striped mongooses breed from December to April, with mating peaking in the Malagasy summer months of February and March. These mongooses have a slightly longer gestation period, reported as 90 to 105 days. Both of these herspestid species typically give birth to a single young. In the latter species, the young is weaned at about 2 months of age. In both species, the young appear to reach sexual maturity around 2 years of age, and have an extended association with parents. Galidictis fasciata is probably similar to the other Malagasy herpestids in these characteristics, but more research is needed to know for sure.
Breeding interval: There animals probably breed annually.
Breeding season: The breeding season of Galidictis fasciata is not known.
Range number of offspring: 1 (high) .
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
Nothing is known about parental investment of G. fasciata. Depite paucity of data, we can reasonably infer that females care for the young, providing them with shelter, milk, and protection at least until the time of weaning. If G. fasciata is like other Malagasy herpestids, specifically Mungotictis decemlineata, the young may remain with the mother until sexually mature, around the age of 2 years. The role of males in parental care is not known, and further research is needed to clarify the exact relationship between the mother and her young.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)
The IUCN currently lists G. fasciata as vunerable. Human advancement into the forests, logging, and clearing are decreasing habitat. There is competition for resources, mainly dietary, from small Indian civets, Viverricula indica, as well as from feral cats and dogs, all of which have been introduced.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Indeterminate(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Indeterminate(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Indeterminate(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Insufficiently Known(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are no known adverse affects of G. fasciata on humans.
No information is available on the positive economic importance G. fasciata has for humans.
Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose
The broad-striped Malagasy mongoose (Galidictis fasciata) is a species of Galidiinae, a subfamily of mongoose-like euplerids native to Madagascar. The species contains two known subspecies: Galidictis fasciata fasciata and Galidictis fasciata striata.
Their main distinguishing factors are their stripes and their tails; G. f. fasciata has a fuller, reddish-brown tail and 8-10 stripes, while G. f. striata has a thinner, white tail and 5 stripes. They are all forest-dweller on the eastern side of the island, and their primary prey is small rodents. This species is most active in the evening and at night.