Crossarchus platycephalusflat-headed kusimanse

Geographic Range

Flat-headed kusimanses have a range covering southern Nigeria, Benin, and Cameroon, with rare sightings as far south as Gabon. The range overlaps with Alexander's kusimanse (Crossarchus alexandri) on the southern border of Cameroon. (Bahaa-El-Din, et al., 2013; Blench, et al., 2007; Do Linh San, et al., 2013; Happold, 1987; Oguntuase and Agbelusi, 2013; Sonet, et al., 2014; Weber, et al., 2001)


Flat-headed kusimanses live in moderately dense rainforests with abundant natural debris, such as fallen logs and rocky structures, which provide them with protection from predators. They are commonly found in lowland forests with damp and cool environments and are also found in forest-savannah mosaics. They have a preference for environments that contain African oil palms (Elaeis guineensis), that serves as protection from predators as well as suitable resting and mating places. They excavate burrows, often using abandoned termite mounds. Flat-headed kusimanses have been sighted up to 1200 m above sea level, but prefer to remain in rainforests with nearby sources of freshwater. Although primarily terrestrial, flat-headed kusimanses are occasionally arboreal. (Bahaa-El-Din, et al., 2013; Gittleman, 1986; Goldman, 1987; Oguntuase and Agbelusi, 2013; Sonet, et al., 2014)

  • Range elevation
    1200 (high) m
    3937.01 (high) ft

Physical Description

Flat-headed kusimanses range in length from 45 to 70 cm (nose to tail tip), and have a height from 18 to 20 cm (at shoulder). The mass ranges from 500 to 1000 g for females, and 900 to 1500 g for males. With the exception of body mass, there is no morphological character (external features, skull features, or otherwise) that reflects sexual dimorphism. Flat-headed kusimanses are characterized by a long nose that extends past the lower lip by a considerable amount and have ears that are short and rounded. The pupils of the eyes are elongated in shape and are horizontally oriented. Consistent with the remaining Crossarchus species, both their fore and hind limbs possess five digits, the forelimbs are plantigrade and it is unclear whether the hind limbs are plantigrade or semi-digitigrade. The forefeet bear long claws ranging from 9 to 12 mm in length, the claws on hind feet are shorter. Both sexes have paired anal scent glands which are located in close proximity to the anus and females bear three pairs of nipples. Flat-headed kusimanses, like the other members of the genus Crossarchus, have a total of 36 teeth and a dental formula of I 3/3 C 1/1 P3/3 M 2/2. The fur of flat-headed kusimanses is grizzled in appearance, with brown-black fur tipped with lighter tones. They have a dense layer of underfur with guard hairs that ranges from 10 mm at the nape of the neck to 30 mm towards the base of the tail. They have fur whorls on the dorsal portion of the neck and sport a hair crest that is located between the ears and the nape of the neck. Flat-headed kusimanses were once considered to be a subspecies of common kusimanses (Crossarchus obscurus), but is now considered to be a distinct species. Flat-headed kusimanses are differentiated from common kusimanses by a conspicuous crest of hair posterior to the ears, shorter palate bones, broader skulls (zygomatic breadth of 34.8 to 41.7 mm in C. platycephalus and 32.3 mm to 37.9 mm in C. obscurus), and deeper brain cases and mandibles. (Colyn and Van Rompaey, 1994; Goldman and Hoffmann, 1984; Goldman, 1987; Kingdon, et al., 2013; Sonet, et al., 2014; Van Rompaey and Colyn, 1992; Veron, et al., 2004)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    500 to 1500 g
    17.62 to 52.86 oz
  • Average mass
    1100 g
    38.77 oz
  • Range length
    45 to 70 cm
    17.72 to 27.56 in


Little is known about the mating systems of flat-headed kusimanses. However there is much known about the mating systems of the closely related species, common kusimanses. Common kusimanses show evidence of a hierarchical group system that is governed by kin relationships and typically contains a dominant breeding pair. Copulation is typically initiated by males and includes clasping onto the female just anterior to the pelvic girdle with the forelimbs and the back of the neck with the mouth. (Goldman, 1987; Schneider and Kappeler, 2014)

Little is known about the reproductive behavior of flat-headed kusimanses. However, there is much known about the general reproductive behavior of the closely related species, common kusimanses. Female common kusimanses are polyestrous and appear to have litters year round. There is some evidence of induced ovulation. Litter sizes range from two to four young, and they have between two and three litters per year. The gestation period ranges from 58 to 73 days and young are born fully-haired with eyes that remain closed until 12 days after parturition. The young are weaned after 23 days and reach sexual maturity at the age of 9 months. (Gittleman, 1986; Goldman, 1987; Schneider and Kappeler, 2014)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding intervals in flat-headed kusimanses are unknown.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding season in flat-headed kusimanses is unknown, but may be year-round like common kusimanses.
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    9 months

Little is known about the parental investment of flat-headed kusimanses. Like other mammals, females invest heavily in young through gestation and lactation.

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female


Little is known about the lifespan of flat-headed kusimanses, although the lifespan of the closely related species, common kusimanses, has a high of 13.3 years in the wild and 9 years in captivity. (Goldman, 1987; Schneider and Kappeler, 2014)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    13.3 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    9 years


Flat-headed kusimanses are primarily diurnal, social, and elusive, like other Crossarchus species. Little else is known about the behaviors of flat-headed kusimanses, however there is much known about the behaviors of the closely related species, common kusimanses. Common kusimanses live in groups that range from 10 to 20 members and usually consist of two to three family units of mixed sexes. Each family unit consists of a breeding pair and the young of the past two to three litters. There is some evidence of territoriality and they are known to forage in packs that often consist of all of the members of the group. It is likely that the social structure of flat-headed kusimanses is similar. (Arimono, et al., 2014; Gittleman, 1986; Goldman, 1987; Schneider and Kappeler, 2014; Shultz, et al., 2004; Sonet, et al., 2014; Veron, et al., 2004)

Home Range

Little is known about the home range of flat-headed kusimanses.

Communication and Perception

Flat-headed kusimanses are described by Goldman (1987) as having an "elaborate vocal repertoire." Both sexes have anal scent glands and cheek glands and are often observed marking trees with a handstand posture. Males increase the frequency of this behavior prior to mating. They use alarm calls in the presence of predators. (Goldman, 1987; Kingdon, 2003)

Food Habits

Flat-headed kusimanses are primarily carnivores, but also feed on the fruits of African oil palms and Aspilia africana trees, which are common in habitats they occupy. Little is known about the specific diet of flat-headed kusimanses, but it is likely to be similar to the diet of common kusimanses. They use their long claws and snouts to overturn stones and branches in order to locate insects and small organisms to feed on. Their diet includes invertebrates, such as snails, worms, and various insects, as well as vertebrates, such as frogs, snakes, lizards, birds, and small mammals. While primarily carnivorous, they have also been recorded to supplement their diet with fruits and berries. Kusimanses kill small mammalian prey by biting the back of the neck. (Aguilera and Chavez-Ramirez, 2010; Creel and MacDonald, 1995; Goldman, 1987; Oguntuase and Agbelusi, 2013)

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • mollusks
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit


Little is known about the predators of flat-headed kusimanses, although the closely related species, common kusimanses are primarily preyed on by various eagles and by African leopards (Panthera pardus). In the presence of predators, kusimanses use alarm calls and escape to trees to evade predators. (Shultz, et al., 2004; Veron, et al., 2004)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

There is little known about the ecosystem roles of flat-headed kusimanses. The closely related species, common kusimanses have various ectoparasites, such as lice (Tricheodectidae), ticks (Acari), and fleas (Siphonaptera). They also harbor endoparasites, such as protozoans (Telosporea), flukes (Trematoda), and pentastomes (Porocephalida). (Emerson and Price, 1980; Goldman, 1987)

Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Flat-headed kusimanses are commonly used as bushmeat in Africa. There are also reports of them being kept as pets in some regions. (Bahaa-El-Din, et al., 2013; Bene, et al., 2013; Wright and Priston, 2010)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There is no known negative impact of flat-headed kusimanses on humans.

Conservation Status

Flat-headed kusimanses are considered to be of least concern on the IUCN Red List. (Goldman and Hoffmann, 1984; Schipper, et al., 2008)

Other Comments

Crossarchus platycephalus was previously considered a subspecies of Crossarchus obscurus under the name Crossarchus obscurus platycephalus. Alternate common names of flat-headed kusimanses are Cameroon kusimanses or with the alternate spelling, cusimanse. (Goldman and Hoffmann, 1984)


Danielle Trudeau (author), University of Manitoba, Jane Waterman (editor), University of Manitoba, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

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.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

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.


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

induced ovulation

ovulation is stimulated by the act of copulation (does not occur spontaneously)


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


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).


eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca


Having one mate at a time.


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.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them


remains in the same area


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


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


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


uses sight to communicate


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


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