Liberiictis kuhniLiberian mongoose

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Geographic Range

Liberiictis kuhni is found in northwestern Liberia and southwestern Ivory Coast.

(Nowak, 1999)

Habitat

Liberian mongoose individuals have been found in areas with dense forests and plentiful streams. A burrow was documented occurring near a termite mound. (Nowak, 1999)

Physical Description

The average Liberian mongoose weighs about 2.3 kg and an average adult male is about 42.3 cm long with a tail 19.7 cm long. An adult female was measured to be 47.8 cm long, with a 20.5 cm long tail. The fur is mostly dark brown with a dark stripe bordered by two light stripes found on the neck. The throat is pale and the tail is slightly paler than the body. Liberian mongooses have strong, long claws, particularly on the forelimbs, which are used for digging in search of food. The claws on the forelimbs measure about 18 mm on the third and fourth toes, while the hind claws measure about 13 mm on the third and fourth toes. The muzzle is long, and can also be used for digging in the sand for insects. The pads of the feet are black and hairless. The primary differences between Liberiictis and its close relative, the cusimanse (Crossarchus), are that Liberiictis has stripes on the back of its neck, a more robust skull and body, smaller teeth, and longer ears. Liberiictis also has one more premolar than Crossarchus in both the upper and lower jaws.

(Nowak, 1990; Schliemann, 1990; Schlitter, 1974)

  • Average mass
    2.3 kg
    5.07 lb
  • Range length
    42.3 to 47.8 cm
    16.65 to 18.82 in

Reproduction

Mating behavior in this species is unknown.

Liberian mongooses most likely breed during the rainy season, which is from May to September. (Nowak, 1999) Little is known about this species’ reproduction and development. A juvenile specimen showed that no permanent teeth had broken the gum line, although the deciduous teeth had come in. (Schlitter, 1974)

  • Breeding season
    Breeding probably occurs from May through September, during the rainy season.

The young are cared for by their mother for some time after birth but little is known of parental care and the development of the young in these animals.

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of Liberian mongooses is not documented.

Behavior

Liberian mongooses have been said to live in groups of 3-5 individuals, and foraging groups as large as 15 members have been documented. Liberian mongooses are active during the day, and they spend a lot of their time searching for food. When they are caught in a snare, Liberian mongooses are reported to become vicious.

(Nowak, 1999; Taylor, 1992; Schliemann, 1990)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Liberian mongoose individuals eat primarily insects, although they also eat worms, eggs, and small invertebrates in the wild. In captivity, these mongooses are known to eat ground meat, dog food, young chickens, and fish.

(Nowak, 1999)

They have been observed foraging in streambeds and through leaf litter and decaying wood for food.

(Schliemann, 1990; Taylor, 1992)

Predation

There is little known about natural predators of Liberiictis kuhni. Humans may be their primary predators currently. They are aggressive when confronted, deterring most predators.

Ecosystem Roles

Liberian mongooses are important predators of insects and other small animal in the ecosystems in which they live.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Liberian mongooses are eaten by human hunters, which is one reason for their diminishing numbers.

(Taylor, 1992)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

They can be fierce when caught in a snare.

(Nowak, 1999)

Conservation Status

This species is extremely rare, and has been listed by the IUCN as endangered. Human destruction of their habitat and human hunting are the primary threats to Liberian mongooses. Owing to their rarity, they were not described until 1958, with the first complete specimens discovered as recently as 1974. An attempt to study them in 1988 yielded only one animal, which had already been killed by a hunter. More recent studies have been more successful in finding live mongooses, and one is currently living in the Metro Toronto Zoo. Political unrest in the areas in which they live has made further studies difficult in recent years, and much has yet to be discovered about the behavior of this animal in the wild, particularly in regard to its life cycle and communicative behavior.

(Nowak, 1999; Taylor, 1992)

Other Comments

Much of what we know about Liberian mongooses is related to morphology as opposed to behavior, owing to the difficulty of finding live specimens to study. What we do know of their behavior in their native area is a mixture of observations by scientists and accounts from local people. As a result, there are some inconsistencies in the literature regarding this animal; for example, most sources list this species as terrestrial, but some local accounts reported that this species lives in tree holes. There has also been some discussion about placing this species in the genus Crossarchus (with its closest relative) although there are enough important differences between Crossarchus and Liberiictis that the Liberian mongoose remains the single species in the genus Liberiictis.

(Nowak, 1999; Taylor, 1992)

Contributors

Barbara Lundrigan (author), Michigan State University, Rebecca Oas (author), Michigan State University.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nomadic

generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.

piscivore

an animal that mainly eats fish

riparian

Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition, Volume I. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Schliemann, . 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals, Volume 3. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Schlitter, D. 1974. Notes on the Liberian Mongoose, *Liberiictis kuhni* Hayman 1958. Journal of Mammalogy, 55: 438-442.

Taylor, M. 1992. The Liberian Mongoose. Oryx, 26: 103-106.