Falanouc (Eupleres goudotii)
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.
The Falanouc is distributed throughout the costal forests of northwestern and eastern Madagascar (Garbutt, 1999).
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
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
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
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).
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
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).
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
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
It is classified alongside its closest living relative, Eupleres major, recognized only in 2010, in the genus Eupleres. 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)."
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Smithsonian Institution. Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. New York: DK Publishing, 2009, p. 205.
- Macdonald, David (ed). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. (New York, 1984)
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