Golden-rumped elephant shrew

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Golden-rumped elephant shrew[1]
Rhynchocyon chrysopygus-J Smit.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Macroscelidea
Family: Macroscelididae
Genus: Rhynchocyon
Species: R. chrysopygus
Binomial name
Rhynchocyon chrysopygus
Günther, 1881
Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew area.png
range

The golden-rumped elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus) is the largest species in the African elephant shrew family. It is only found in the coastal Arabuko Sokoke National Park north of Mombasa in Kenya. Its name is derived from the conspicuous golden fur on its hindquarters, which contrasts strongly with its otherwise dark fur. On juveniles, the fur shows vestigial traces of the checkerboard pattern seen on another giant elephant shrew, the checkered elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon cirnei).

The golden-rumped elephant shrew lives on the forest floor of evergreen forests, rooting through the leaf litter for 80% of the waking day looking for grasshoppers, beetles, spiders and other small invertebrates.

The golden-rumped elephant shrew has evolved various strategies to avoid predators, particularly snakes (such as black mambas and cobras) and the southern banded snake-eagle. It is very fast, capable of running at 25 km/h. When it detects a predator within its escape distance, it will run. If, however, the predator is outside its escape distance, the elephant shrew will advertise its presence by slapping the leaf litter. This lets the predator know it has been seen. In the event of a chase or an ambush, the golden flash of fur will also often deflect the predator's attention away from the head and onto the rump, which has thickened skin. As a final precaution, each shrew maintains several nests.

The golden-rumped elephant shrew is classified as endangered because of its highly restricted and fragmented environment. It is also hunted for food by people and killed by feral dogs.

This species was identified as one of the top 10 "focal species" in 2007 by the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) project.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Schlitter, D. A. (2005). "Order Macroscelidea". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ FitzGibbon, C. & G. Rathbun (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group). 2008. Rhynchocyon chrysopygus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 04 June 2013.
  3. ^ Protection for 'weirdest' species. BBC. January 16, 2007. Accessed June 4, 2013.

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