Galidictis grandidierigiant-striped mongoose

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Geographic Range

Giant-striped mongooses (Galidictis grandidieri) are found in the spiny desert region of southwestern Madagascar, also known as the Didlerea-Euphorbia thicket. At one time they were found in the Itampolo area and were thought to exist in the Mahafaly Plateau region also. Most recently, they were found in the Tsimanampetsotsa Reserve. The total area of occupation by this species is documented at 43,200 ha. (Goodman, 1996; "2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species", 2002; Wozencraft, 1986)

Habitat

Giant-striped mongooses are found in the spiny desert region of southwestern Madagascar, classified as subtropical or tropical dry, which receives only 10 to 40 cm of rain per year. Vegetation of the spiny desert includes species of Euphorbia and Pachypodium. Much of the vegetation has sharp spines and/or thorns, making it very inhospitable to humans and difficult for researchers to navigate. The Tsimanampetsotsa Reserve is at an elevation of 38 to 114 m and experiences temperaturesof up to 47 degrees C. ("2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species", 2002; Parks, 1996-2001; Wozencraft, 1986; Wozencraft, 1990)

  • Range elevation
    38 to 114 m
    124.67 to 374.02 ft

Physical Description

Giant-striped mongooses are much larger than other Malagasy mongooses. Galidictis grandidieri is approximately 32 to 40 cm in length and weighs about 499 to 589 g. The tail is 28 to 30 cm long. (Nowak, 1995; Postanawicz, 1997-2002; Wozencraft, 1986)

The species is known for its light brown, creamy colored hair. Individuals are marked with eight dark stripes running longitudinally down the back. The stripes are narrower than the spaces in between the stripes. They originate at the base of the ears and follow the body to the base of the tail. This species of mongoose also has longer legs and larger feet than any of the other Malagasy mongooses. There is currently no published information that indicates that giant striped mongooses are sexually dimorphic. Males and females look the same, but a scent pouch is present in the females. Juveniles appear to look much the same as adults as well, except for the difference in size. (Nowak, 1995; Postanawicz, 1997-2002; Wozencraft, 1986)

The skull of G. grandidieri is larger than that of other mongooses, and has a well-developed sagittal crest and a short supraorbital process. The term robust is often used to describe the skull of this species. (Nowak, 1995)

The dental formula for G. grandidieri is 3/3, 1/1, 3-4/3, 2/2 = 36-38. Galidictis grandidieri differs from its close relative Galidictis fasciata in that G. grandidieri has a wider rostrum at the canines, a longer mandible, and longer premolars. The canines of mongooses closely occlude with one another and are good for shearing. The conical crushing teeth of this species are much like the teeth of crab-eating mongooses of India. (Nowak, 1995; Postanawicz, 1997-2002; Wozencraft, 1986)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    499 to 589 g
    17.59 to 20.76 oz
  • Range length
    32 to 40 cm
    12.60 to 15.75 in

Reproduction

Giant striped mongooses live in pairs and breed year round. The breeding system is apparently monogamous, although reproduction in this species has not yet been studied in depth. (Wozencraft, 1990)

Giant-striped mongooses breed year round and produces one offspring per year. (Wozencraft, 1990)

Although other details on the reproduction of G. grandidieri are lacking, other species of mongoose on Madagascar have gestation lengths of 72 to 92 days (Galidia elegans) and 90-105 days (Muncgotictis decemlineata). Both of these species produce a single young which weighs about 50 g at birth. Malagasy broad striped mongooses probably fall within this range of variation. (Nowak, 1999)

Although maturation in G. grandidieri has not been reported, in other species of Malagasy mongooses, physical maturity is attained between 1 and 2 years of age, and sexual maturity seems to occur around 2 years of age. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Breeding interval
    Giant-striped mongooses breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    This species apparently breeds year round.
  • Average number of offspring
    1

No specific studies have been conducted on the development of G. grandidieri, but it seems that it is similar to that of other members of the mongoose family. Mothers typically care for somewhat altricial young in a den or burrow of some sort, providing them with protection, grooming, and food in the form of milk. Because this species lives in monogamous pairs, it is likely that the father assists the mother in care of the young, although this has not been documented. Mongoose juveniles have been observed with their mothers during later stages of their development, but at what age they eventually break away from their mothers has not been documented in this species. (Nowak, 1999; Wozencraft, 1990)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

There is currently no documented information about the lifespan or longevity of giant-striped mongooses.

Behavior

Galidictis grandidieri is a nocturnal animal. Due to the intense heat of its habitat, it lives in holes in limestone formations during the day and emerges at night to hunt and forage. The mongooses are relatively mobile and do not always stay in the same hole every night. Wozencraft indicated that during his trapping of G. grandidieri the animals seemed relatively docile and not very excitable. Young of the genus are reported to be easily tamed, and will sit in the lap of the owner. If two animals were traveling together and one was caught in a trap, the other would stay nearby, even when humans were present. Overall behaviors and behavioral patterns have been difficult to document with radio telemetry, because of the rough terrain the mongoose lives in. The limestone rock makes it difficult to track signals if the animal goes deep into the rocks and the spiny vegetation is impossible to navigate through with out major disturbance to it. New means of tracking and observing this animal are still being developed. (Nowak, 1999; Wozencraft, 1990)

Home Range

Individuals maintain a range of about 0.86 to 1.3 square kilometers. (Wozencraft, 1990)

Communication and Perception

There has been no documentation of the methods of communication used by giant-striped mongooses or of other mongooses of the genus Galidictis. These animals are known to produce odors, and females have well developed scent pouches. These presumably function in communication. Other mongooses have communication through body postures and through tactile interactions. It is likely that this species is similar. Vocalizations may also be used. (Nowak, 1999; Wozencraft, 1990)

Food Habits

Giant-striped mongooses eat invertebrates, especially giant hissing cockroaches and scorpions. However, due to the strong crushing teeth and massive skull, scientists suspect that the species also eats rodents and lizards. This species forages singly and in pairs. (Wozencraft, 1990)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

Predation

There are no documented predators of G. grandidieri. The only possible predator in its known range is the cat-like fossa, which is a member of the civet family. Because of the thorny vegetation found in the habitat of this species, avian predators are unlikely. (Wozencraft, 1990)

Ecosystem Roles

Giant-striped mongooses act as a predator on invertebrates and is probably a prey species for the catlike fossa. (Nowak, 1999; Wozencraft, 1990)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There is no known documentation of the economic importance of G. grandidieri. Because it lives in inaccessible habitat, it is unlikely to have any positive impact on human economies.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There is no known documentation of the economic importance of G. grandidieri.

Conservation Status

At this time, giant-striped mongooses have only been documented in the spiny desert of southwestern Madagascar. They appear to be generally abundant in that area, however with habitat loss that comes with increased development, and the extraction of wood from its habitat, the population size of the giant striped mongoose has begun to decline. There is still much research to be done on this species to determine size of the population and risk of extinction. For now, researchers will try to preserve as much of the spiny desert of southwestern Madagascar for the giant-striped mongoose and the other animals and plants endemic to that region. ("2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species", 2002; Wozencraft, 1990)

Other Comments

The name G. grandidieri is named for Alfred Grandidier, a Malagasy mammologist. There is a statue of him at the zoo in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

Contributors

Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Sarah Braun (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Glossary

Ethiopian

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

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

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

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

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.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.

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).

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

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.

nocturnal

active during the night

sedentary

remains in the same area

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.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

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

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

References

IUCN. 2002. "2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line ). Accessed 11/02/02 at http://www.redlist.org/search/details.php?species=8834.

Wetlands International. "Ramsar Sites Database-Madagascar 1MG001" (On-line ). Wetlands International. Accessed 11/02/02 at http://www.wetlands.org/RDB/Ramsar_Dir/Madagascar/MG001D02.htm.

Goodman, S. 1996. A Subfossil Record of Galidictis grandidieri (Herpestidae: Galidiinae) from Southwestern Madagascar. Mammalia, 60 (1): 150-151.

Nowak, R. 1995. "Malagasy Broad Striped Mongooses" (On-line). Walker's Mammals of the World Online. Accessed June 15, 2004 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/carnivora/carnivora.viverridae.galidictis.html.

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

Parks, D. 1996-2001. "Madagascar Biodiversity and Conservation" (On-line ). Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed 11/01/02 at http://ridgwaydb.mobot.org/mobot/madagascar/default.asp.

Postanawicz, R. 1997-2002. "Malagasy Giant-striped Mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri)" (On-line ). Lioncrusher's Domain. Accessed 10/12/02 at http://www.lioncrusher.com/animal.asp?animal=149.

Wozencraft, W. 1986. A New Species of Striped Mongoose from Madagascar. Journal of Mammology, 67 (3): 561-571.

Wozencraft, W. 1990. Alive and Well in Tsimanampetsotsa. Natural History, 12/90: 28-30.