Lyncodon patagonicusPatagonian weasel

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Geographic Range

Lyncodon patagonicus has a distribution within the Neotropical region. Its range is from the southern and western parts of Argentina into Chile (Redford and Eisenberg, 1992).

Habitat

There is not a lot known about the habitat of L. patagonicus. The little research there is on this species suggests that Patagonian weasels are found in Pampas habitats that have light-colored substrates excluding deserts (Gittleman, 1996).

Physical Description

The head and body length of Lyncodon patagonicus ranges from 300 to 350 mm, with the tail adding an additional 60 to 90 mm (Nowak, 1999). Patagonian weasels have a dental formula of 3/3, 1/1, 2/2, 1/1= 28 (Mares, 1989). They have very small ears that are covered by the surrounding fur. Generally, the the fur is whitish with some dark brown and black tones intermixed. From the top of the head to along its backside there is a distinguishable broad white or yellowish band of fur. Lyncodon patagonicus has short legs, a long body, and a short bushy tail (Redford and Eisenberg, 1992).

  • Average mass
    225 g
    7.93 oz
  • Range length
    300 to 350 mm
    11.81 to 13.78 in

Reproduction

The mating system and behavior of Patagonian weasles remains unknown at this time. However, most mustelids associate only briefly during the mating season. Males have territories that overlap with those of several females and they monitor their reproductive state through chemical cues.

The reproductive behavior of this species has not been characterized.

Parental care in L. patagonicus is as unknown as the rest of the species' reproductive behavior. As in all mammals, the female nurses her young. Mustelids in general produce altricial young, which reside in a den or burrow until their eyes are open and they are able to walk. At this time, young weasels typically accompany their mother on foraging trips.

Lifespan/Longevity

Lifespan and longevity of this species are unknown.

Behavior

Patagonian weasels have been noted to enter burrows of Ctenomys and Microcavia in pursuit of prey. A defensive behavior of this species is that when it is cornered, the neck pelage will be erected. It is reportedly active at dusk and at night. (Redford and Eisenberg, 1992)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The specific food habits of Patagonian weasels are little known, but the fact that this species has reduced molars and well-formed carnassials suggests that it is primarily carnivorous (Ewer, 1973). Patagonian weasels have been noted to enter burrows of Ctenomys and Microcavia in pursuit of prey. (Redford and Eisenberg, 1992)

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats terrestrial vertebrates
  • Animal Foods
  • mammals

Predation

Predation on this species has not been reported.

Ecosystem Roles

Because the dietary habits of this animal are not known, it is difficult to speculate on the role it plays within its ecosystem. However, L. patagonicus likely plays some role in regulating small rodent populations.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

This weasel has reportedly been kept by some ranchers as a working pet to destroy rats (Nowak, 1999).

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

No adverse affects on humans have been reported.

Conservation Status

Although this species has no special status, it is reportedly rare in Chile (Nowak, 1999)

Other Comments

This animal has not been extensively studied resulting in very little published information.

Contributors

Karen Malek (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

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

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

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

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.

nocturnal

active during the night

sexual

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

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

viviparous

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

References

Ewer, R. 1973. The Carnivores. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Gittleman, J. 1996. Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution, Volume 2. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Mares, M., R. Ojeda, R. Barquez. 1989. Guide to the Mammals of Salta Province, Argentina. Norman, USA: University of Oklahoma Press.

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

Redford, K., J. Eisenberg. 1992. Mammals of the Neotropics- The Southern Cone Volume 2- Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay.. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.