Identification of a small mammal

Could someone help with identification of this small mammal? Is it a possum? A dormouse?

It was photographed in Sukhumi botanical garden, in Abkhazia (west of Georgia, on the shores of the black sea).

This is not a marsupial such as an opossum, since no marsupials are native to the region. It looks to be a rodent of some kind, probably a species in the Muridae family.

Which species is it is exactly is hard to tell, since there are many species in Muridae which look quite similar, but my best guess is that this is a Tamarisk jird. It could also conceivably be an escaped domestic gerbil or some type of mouse. The one that you found has more pronounced light areas on its coat than the photographs I found, but is within reasonable limits of what variation can be expected.

Here are some of the few pictures I was able to find that I could verify were of this species.

Klaus Rudloff (source)

Klaus Rudloff (source)

List of mammals of Central America

This is a list of the native wild mammal species recorded in Central America. Central America is usually defined as the southernmost extension of North America however, from a biological standpoint it is useful to view it as a separate region of the Americas. Central America is distinct from the remainder of North America in being a tropical region, part of the Neotropical realm, whose flora and fauna display a strong South American influence. The rest of North America is mostly subtropical or temperate, belongs to the Nearctic realm, and has far fewer species of South American origin.

At present Central America bridges North and South America, facilitating migrations in both directions, but this phenomenon is relatively recent from a geological perspective. The formation of this land bridge through volcanic activity three million years ago precipitated the Great American Interchange, an important biogeographical event. In part because of this history, Central America is extremely biodiverse it comprises most of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot. [1] The mountains running down the spine of Central America have also contributed to biodiversity by creating montane habitats, including cloud forests and grasslands, and by separating species from the lowlands along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. However, Central America's biodiversity suffered a blow in the Quaternary extinction event, which started around 12,500 cal BP, at roughly the time of arrival of Paleoindians much of the megafauna died out at this time. The effects of modern human activities on climate and ecosystem integrity pose a further threat to Central America's fauna.

This list consists of those mammal species found from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the northwestern border of Colombia, a region including the Mexican states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo, and the nations of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. As of May 2012, the list contains 378 species, 177 genera, 47 families and 13 orders. Of the taxa from nonflying, nonmarine groups (203 species, 91 genera, 31 families and 10 orders), those of South American origin (opossums, xenarthrans, monkeys and caviomorph rodents) comprise 21% of species, 34% of genera, 52% of families and 50% of orders. Thus, South America's contribution to Central America's biodiversity is fairly modest at the species level, but substantial at higher taxonomic levels. In comparison to South America, a famously biodiverse continent, Central America has 27% as many species, 51% as many genera, 81% as many families and 86% as many orders (considering noncetacean taxa only), while having only 4.3% of the land area.

Of the species, two are extinct, eleven are critically endangered, thirteen are endangered, twenty are vulnerable, twenty are near threatened, thirty-five are data deficient and five are not yet evaluated. [n 1] Mammal species presumed extinct since AD 1500 (two cases) are included. Domestic species and introduced species are not listed.

Note: this list is almost inevitably going to be incomplete, since new species are continually being recognized via discovery or reclassification. Places to check for missing species include the Wikipedia missing mammal species list, including recently removed entries, and the species listings in the articles for mammalian genera, especially those of small mammals such as rodents or bats.

The following tags are used to highlight each species' conservation status as assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature those on the left are used here, those in the second column in some other articles:

EX EX Extinct No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died.
E W EW Extinct in the wild Known only to survive in captivity or as a naturalized population well outside its historic range.
CR CR Critically endangered The species is in imminent danger of extinction in the wild.
EN EN Endangered The species is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
VU VU Vulnerable The species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
NT NT Near threatened The species does not qualify as being at high risk of extinction but is likely to do so in the future.
LC LC Least concern The species is not currently at risk of extinction in the wild.
DD DD Data deficient There is inadequate information to assess the risk of extinction for this species.
NE NE Not evaluated The conservation status of the species has not been studied.

The IUCN status of the listed species was last updated between November 2008 and March 2009.

Mammals of Washington

Range in Washington : Statewide, but patchily distributed, rare.

diet : Carnivorous, primarily snowshoe hares.

identification : Plain, brownish-gray coat long legs long ear tufts. Total length: 85-105 cm tail: 14-16 cm mass: 8-18 kg.

conservation : State Threatened Federal Threatened.

Range in Washington : Statewide.

habitat : Many habitats, primarily open forest and scrub.

diet : Prefers rabbits, also eats other small mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles and plants.

identification : Black spots on coat, short ear tufts. Total length: 85-95 cm tail: 14-16 cm mass: 7-11 kg.

Photo by [email protected]

General range : North America to southern South America.

Range in Washington : Statewide except Columbia Basin.

habitat : Forested and mountainous areas.

diet : Broadly carnivorous from deer to grasshoppers.

identification : Largest native cat, long tail, no spots. Total length: 150-275 cm tail: 50-95 cm mass: 40-125 kg.

General range : Throughout northern hemisphere. North America except southeastern USA and northern Canada Range.

Range in Washington : Statewide.

habitat : Open areas, woodlands, forests, urban areas.

diet : Small mammals, carrion, fruits.

identification : Smaller than a German shepherd, gray, runs with tail down. Total length: 105-130cm tail length: 30-39cm mass: 10-18kg.

General range : Throughout northern hemisphere.

Range in Washington : Northern Washington, rare.

habitat : Forested areas, open tundra.

diet : Carnivorous prefers moose, caribou, and deer, but will catch small mammals.

identification : Larger than coyote, muzzle broader, runs with tail horizontal. Total length: 100-205 cm tail: 35-50 cm mass: 25-60 kg.

conservation : State Endangered Federal Endangered.

Photo by [email protected]

General range : North America, Europe, Asia.

Range in Washington : Mountains and western lowlands.

habitat : Open areas, woodlands, forests.

diet : Rodents, occasional birds.

identification : Rusty-red above, white below sometimes blackish or silver. Long, bushy tail with white tip. Total length: 90-100 cm tail: 35-45 cm mass: 4-7 kg.

Range in Washington : Statewide except Columbia Basin.

diet : Omnivorous, including fish, invertebrates, and berries.

habits : Hibernates and gives birth in winter den.

identification : Black to cinnamon, white blaze on chest. Total length: 135-190 cm tail: 75-175 mm mass: 90-270 kg.

General range : Formerly widespread in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Range in Washington : North Cascades, rare.

identification : Black to yellowish-brown. Total length: 180-200 cm tail: about 75 mm mass: 145-680 kg.

conservation : State Endangered Federal Threatened.

General range : Subarctic waters of the northern Pacific Ocean, Bering and Okhotsk Seas, and Sea of Japan.

Range in Washington : Pacific Coast.

habitat : Usually at sea, breeds on rocky shores.

diet : Fish, squid, sea birds.

identification : Blackish above with large, gray shoulders. Total length: males 190-220 cm, females 110-140 cm mass: males 150-270 kg, females 35-55 kg.

General range : Subarctic waters of the northern Pacific Ocean, Bering and Okhotsk Seas, and Sea of Japan.

Range in Washington : Pacific Coast, Salish Sea, Puget Sound.

habitat : Rocky shores and coastal waters along them.

identification : Largest eared seal face otter-like bulls buff above, reddish below cows brown. Total length: males 270-320 cm, females 190-220 cm mass: males up to 1000 kg, females 270-375 kg.

conservation : State Threatened Federal Threatened.

Photo by Jim Kenagy.

General range : Pacific Coast from Mexico to British Columbia, and Galapagos Islands.

Range in Washington : Pacific Coast, Salish Sea, Puget Sound.

habitat : Sandy or rocky beaches protected by high cliffs, preferably on islands.

identification : Buff to brown, appearing black when wet males with pronounced head crest. Total length: males 200-250 cm, females 150-200 cm mass: males 200-300 kg, females 45-100 kg.

Photo by Jim Kenagy.

General range : Pacific Coast from Baja California, Mexico, through Alaska.

Range in Washington : Pacific Coast, Salish Sea, Puget Sound.

habitat : Temperate seas, breeds on subtropical sandy beaches.

diet : Fish, squid, small sharks.

identification : Largest aquatic carnivore large snout drooping over muzzle. Total length: males 450-650 cm, females 300-350 cm mass: males up to 3500 kg, females up to 900 kg.

Photo by [email protected]

General range : North America, eastern Asia, western Europe.

Range in Washington : Pacific Coast, Salish Sea, Puget Sound.

habitat : Temperate seas, breeds on subtropical sandy beaches.

diet : Fish, squid, small sharks.

identification : Yellowish-gray or brownish with dark spots above. Males and females about same size. Total length: 120-170 cm tail: 9-12 cm mass: up to 135 kg.

Photo by [email protected]

General range : Pacific Coast from California north to Alaska, and continuing down along the east coast of Russia.

Range in Washington : Pacific Coast, Salish Sea - limited to western entrance of Strait of Juan de Fuca.

habitat : Kelp beds in ocean.

diet : Sea urchins, shellfish.

habits : Exclusively aquatic uses rocks as tools to crush shells.

identification : Dark brown with yellowish head large crushing molars. Total length: 75-180 cm tail: 25-35 cm mass: 12-36 kg. Males larger than females.

conservation : State Endangered

Range in Washington : Statewide, including marine waters of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound.

habitat : Rivers and lakes, usually in wooded areas.

diet : Fish occasionally small mammals.

identification : Dark brown with paler belly throat often silver-gray. Total length: 90-130 cm tail: 30-50 cm mass: 5-14 kg.

Photo by Maia [email protected]

General range : Taiga and southern tundra of Eurasia and North America.

Range in Washington : Cascades, Olympics.

diet : Prefers carrion, but will eat anything it can kill or find.

habits : Voracious appetite marks food caches with foul-smelling musk that repels other predators.

identification : Largest terrestrial member of its family dark brown with yellow bands from shoulders to hips. Total length: 80-110 cm tail: 15-25 cm mass: 8-20 kg.

conservation : State Candidate Federal Species of Concern.

Range in Washington : Most of state except Columbia Basin.

habitat : Coniferous forest.

diet : Prefers tree squirrels, Tamiasciurus, but also takes other small mammals and birds.

identification : Brown with cream bib under chin long, bushy tail. Total length: 50-68 cm tail: 15-24 cm mass: 500-1500 g.

Range in Washington : Cascades, Olympics.

diet : Diverse rodents, rabbits, birds.

habits : Eats porcupines by flipping them over and feeding along the unprotected abdomen.

identification : Dark brown, occasionally with grayish head. Total length: 80-100 cm tail: 30-40 cm mass: 2-8 kg.

conservation : State Endangered Federal Species of Concern.

Photo by [email protected]

General range : North America, Europe, Asia.

Range in Washington : Statewide except Columbia Basin.

habitat : Wooded areas, brushy areas, wetlands, farmlands.

diet : Small rodents, birds.

habits : Captures rodents by entering their burrows.

identification : Long, thin body short tail with black tip white belly. Total length: 20-35 cm tail: 4.5-9 cm mass: 50-180 g. Males about twice as large as females.

Photo by [email protected]

General range : Southern Canada to Venezuela and Bolivia.

Range in Washington : Statewide.

diet : Small rodents, birds.

habits : Captures rodents by entering their burrows.

identification : Long, thin body long tail with black tip yellowish belly brown feet. Total length: 30-55 cm tail: 8-16 cm mass: 85-270 g.

Photo by [email protected]

General range : United States and Canada. Introduced into Europe, British Isles, and Siberia.

Range in Washington : Statewide.

habits : Swims very well and often hunts in water.

identification : Larger than weasels, brown belly, white spotting on chin and throat. Total length: 50-75 cm tail: 15-20 cm mass: 700-1600 g.

Range in Washington : Eastern Washington.

habitat : Grassland and sagebrush, some forests.

diet : Carnivorous, especially rodents.

habits : Excavates rodent prey, including hibernating ground squirrels.

identification : Striped head, powerful claws. Total length: 50-85 cm tail: 10-16 cm mass: 5-11 kg.

Photo by Charles & [email protected]

Range in Washington : Statewide.

habitat : Brushy and open country.

diet : Omnivorous, including rodents, birds, fruit, insects, eggs.

habits : When threatened, raises tail and sprays foul-smelling musk from anal glands.

identification : Black with two broad white stripes that meet on head. Total length: 55-80 cm tail: 18-40 cm mass: 2.5-6 kg.

Range in Washington : West of Cascades and southeastern corner.

habitat : Mixed woodlands, farmlands, open areas.

diet : Omnivorous, including rodents, birds, fruits, and insects.

habits : Ascends trees to flee predators sprays by standing on forelegs and raising hindlegs and tail in the air.

identification : Spotted smaller than striped skunk. Total length: 35-55 cm tail: 7-22 cm mass: 800-1000 g.

Photo by Eric [email protected]

General range : North America south to Panama. Introduced into western Europe.

Range in Washington : Statewide.

habitat : Many habitats, near water, urban areas.

habits : Nocturnal, solitary.

identification : Masked face, ringed tail. Total length: 60-95 cm tail: 20-40 cm mass: 6-22 kg.


Characteristics of Primates

Order Primates of class Mammalia includes lemurs, tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans. Non-human primates live primarily in the tropical or subtropical regions of South America, Africa, and Asia. They range in size from the mouse lemur at 30 grams (1 ounce) to the mountain gorilla at 200 kilograms (441 pounds). The characteristics and evolution of primates is of particular interest to us as it allows us to understand the evolution of our own species.

All primate species possess adaptations for climbing trees, as they all descended from tree-dwellers. This arboreal heritage of primates has resulted in hands and feet that are adapted for brachiation, or climbing and swinging through trees. These adaptations include, but are not limited to: 1) a rotating shoulder joint, 2) a big toe that is widely separated from the other toes and thumbs, which are widely separated from fingers (except humans), which allow for gripping branches, 3) stereoscopic vision, two overlapping fields of vision from the eyes, which allows for the perception of depth and gauging distance. Other characteristics of primates are brains that are larger than those of most other mammals, claws that have been modified into flattened nails, typically only one offspring per pregnancy, and a trend toward holding the body upright.

Order Primates is divided into two groups: prosimians and anthropoids. Prosimians include the bush babies of Africa, the lemurs of Madagascar, and the lorises, pottos, and tarsiers of Southeast Asia. Anthropoids include monkeys, apes, and humans. In general, prosimians tend to be nocturnal (in contrast to diurnal anthropoids) and exhibit a smaller size and smaller brain than anthropoids.

Evolution of Primates

The first primate-like mammals are referred to as proto-primates. They were roughly similar to squirrels and tree shrews in size and appearance. The existing fossil evidence (mostly from North Africa) is very fragmented. These proto-primates remain largely mysterious creatures until more fossil evidence becomes available. The oldest known primate-like mammals with a relatively robust fossil record is Plesiadapis (although some researchers do not agree that Plesiadapis was a proto-primate). Fossils of this primate have been dated to approximately 55 million years ago. Plesiadapiforms were proto-primates that had some features of the teeth and skeleton in common with true primates. They were found in North America and Europe in the Cenozoic and went extinct by the end of the Eocene.

The first true primates were found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa in the Eocene Epoch. These early primates resembled present-day prosimians such as lemurs. Evolutionary changes continued in these early primates, with larger brains and eyes, and smaller muzzles being the trend. By the end of the Eocene Epoch, many of the early prosimian species went extinct due either to cooler temperatures or competition from the first monkeys.

Figure 5. The howler monkey is native to Central and South America. It makes a call that sounds like a lion roaring. (credit: Xavi Talleda)

Anthropoid monkeys evolved from prosimians during the Oligocene Epoch. By 40 million years ago, evidence indicates that monkeys were present in the New World (South America) and the Old World (Africa and Asia). New World monkeys are also called Platyrrhini—a reference to their broad noses (Figure 5). Old World monkeys are called Catarrhini—a reference to their narrow noses. There is still quite a bit of uncertainty about the origins of the New World monkeys. At the time the platyrrhines arose, the continents of South American and Africa had drifted apart. Therefore, it is thought that monkeys arose in the Old World and reached the New World either by drifting on log rafts or by crossing land bridges. Due to this reproductive isolation, New World monkeys and Old World monkeys underwent separate adaptive radiations over millions of years. The New World monkeys are all arboreal, whereas Old World monkeys include arboreal and ground-dwelling species.

Apes evolved from the catarrhines in Africa midway through the Cenozoic, approximately 25 million years ago. Apes are generally larger than monkeys and they do not possess a tail. All apes are capable of moving through trees, although many species spend most their time on the ground. Apes are more intelligent than monkeys, and they have relatively larger brains proportionate to body size. The apes are divided into two groups. The lesser apes comprise the family Hylobatidae, including gibbons and siamangs. The great apes include the genera Pan (chimpanzees and bonobos) (Figure 6a), Gorilla (gorillas), Pongo (orangutans), and Homo (humans) (Figure 6b). The very arboreal gibbons are smaller than the great apes they have low sexual dimorphism (that is, the sexes are not markedly different in size) and they have relatively longer arms used for swinging through trees.

Figure 6. The (a) chimpanzee is one of the great apes. It possesses a relatively large brain and has no tail. (b) All great apes have a similar skeletal structure. (credit a: modification of work by Aaron Logan credit b: modification of work by Tim Vickers)

Identification of a small mammal - Biology

Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition (MSW3) is a database of mammalian taxonomy. It is hoped that this database on the World Wide Web can be used as a convenient on-line reference for identifying or verifying recognized scientific names and for taxonomic research. The names are organized in a hierarchy that includes Order, Suborder, Family, Subfamily, Genus, Species and Subspecies. Records include the following fields:

  • Scientific name
  • Author's name and year described
  • Original publication citation
  • Common name
  • Type Species
  • Type Locality
  • Distribution
  • Comments
  • Status
  • Synonyms

The citation for this work is: Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), Johns Hopkins University Press, 2,142 pp. (Available from Johns Hopkins University Press, 1-800-537-5487 or (410) 516-6900, or at

This third edition is enhanced by the identification of subspecies, and by the inclusion of authority information for all synonyms. Further information about the book and about the contents of each field can be found in the preface and introductory material.

This online list was compiled under the auspices of the American Society of Mammalogists. Copyright 2005 Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights are reserved. The data in this checklist of mammal species of the world are being presented for non-commercial, personal, and collections management use only. Copying or redistributing these data in any manner for personal or corporate gain is not permitted. A list of the authors responsible for various portions of the text can be found here.

For an analysis of new species found in the third edition see: D. M. Reeder , K. M. Helgen, and D. E. Wilson. 2007. Global Trends and Biases in New Mammal Species Discoveries. Occasional Papers, Museum of Texas Tech University, 269:1-36. pdf [ click here].

This project is in collaboration with the Division of Mammals of the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution and The American Society of Mammalogists.

The scientific names from the MSW3 database are available as a custom dictionary that can be used with various Microsoft Office applications. To download the dictionary, right-click on this link and choose 'Save Target As . ' (or the equivalent, depending on the browser that you are using). [Installation instructions for custom dictionaries vary depending on the version of Microsoft Office that you are using. To start, try here.] Thanks to Doug Kelt, UC Davis, for creating and sharing this dictionary.


This study investigated the role of vertebrates in the reproductive biology of a community of three co-occurring Protea species (Protea canaliculata, Protea sulphurea and Protea humiflora, Proteaceae) at Kraggashoek in the Western Cape, South Africa. Live-trapping, measures of facial and faecal pollen loads, and footage from remote cameras facing the inflorescences confirmed that all three are visited by small mammals and specialist nectarivorous birds. These plant species have bowl-shaped inflorescences that produce highly concentrated (34.1–42.9%) sucrose-rich nectar and a “yeasty” scent, typical traits of small-mammal pollinated plants. Camera footage indicated that 140 visits were made by eight small mammal species to an accumulative 19 inflorescences of the three Protea species. Small mammals thus made up 69% of total visits by all vertebrate species. Camera footage revealed that Micaelamys namaquensis visited flowers more frequently than any other vertebrate visitor (41% of total visitations by birds and mammals) but Elephantulus edwardii (10% of total visitations by birds and mammals) spent the longest time foraging on inflorescences (

28 s per inflorescence). The ‘trap shy’ species, Graphiurus ocularis, was observed for the first time on camera, visiting Protea humiflora and Protea sulphurea inflorescences. Galerella pulverulenta (Cape gray mongoose) also visited inflorescences of P. canaliculata. The remaining 31% of total vertebrate visits, primarily to Protea humiflora, were by three species of specialist nectarivorous birds (the Cape sugarbird Promerops cafer, and the shorter-billed sunbirds, Anthobaphes violacea and Cinnyris chalybeus). Breeding system experiments with Protea sulphurea revealed that pollinators are needed for seed set, although exclusion of vertebrate pollinators only marginally lowered seed set of this partially self-incompatible species. These three Protea species had asynchronous flowering periods, supporting a wide range and relative abundance (overall live mammal trapping success rate of 22.7% nocturnal and 5.7% diurnal species) of vertebrate pollinators over a three month period in winter. That these Protea species co-occur suggests there is a community of vertebrate flower visitor species and primarily small mammal-pollinated plant species. The partitioning of nectar resources over a long period has conservation implications for both the plants and animals.

Identification of a small mammal - Biology

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Pika, (genus Ochotona), small short-legged and virtually tailless egg-shaped mammal found in the mountains of western North America and much of Asia. Despite their small size, body shape, and round ears, pikas are not rodents but the smallest representatives of the lagomorphs, a group otherwise represented only by hares and rabbits (family Leporidae).

The 29 species of pika are remarkably uniform in body proportions and stance. Their fur is long and soft and is generally grayish-brown in colour, although a few species are rusty red. Unlike those of rabbits and hares, the hind limbs are not appreciably longer than the forelimbs. The feet, including the soles, are densely furred, with five toes in front and four behind. Most pikas weigh between 125 and 200 grams (4.5 and 7.1 ounces) and are about 15 cm (6 inches) in length.

Pikas are normally found in mountainous areas at high elevations. Two species reside in North America, the rest being found primarily throughout Central Asia 23 of them live entirely or partly in China, especially the Tibetan plateau. There are two distinctly different ecological niches occupied by pikas. Some live only in piles of broken rock (talus), whereas others inhabit meadow or steppe environments, where they construct burrows. The North American species and roughly half of the Asian species live in rocky habitats and do not make burrows. Rather, their nests are made deep in a labyrinth of talus adjoining alpine meadows or other suitable vegetation. The collared pika (O. collaris) of Alaska and northern Canada has been found on the isolated nunataks (crags or peaks surrounded by glaciers) in Kluane National Park, and O. macrotis has been recorded at 6,130 metres (20,113 feet) on the slopes of the Himalayas. The pika with the largest distribution, the northern pika (O. hyperborea), ranges from the Ural Mountains to the east coast of Russia and Hokkaido Island of northern Japan. Although the northern pika is considered a typical talus-dwelling species, it also is known to inhabit rocky terrain in coniferous forests, where it makes burrows under fallen logs and tree stumps.

There are dramatic differences between pikas that inhabit rocky terrain and those that construct burrows in open habitats. Rock dwellers are generally long-lived (up to seven years) and occur at low density, their populations tending to be stable over time. In contrast, burrowing pikas rarely live more than one year, and their widely fluctuating populations may be 30 or more times as dense. These dense populations fluctuate widely. The contrast between rock-dwelling and burrowing pikas extends to their reproduction. Rock-dwelling pikas normally initiate only two litters per year, and generally only one of these is successfully weaned. It is believed that the second litter is successful only when the first offspring are lost early in the breeding season. Litter size of most rock dwellers is low, but burrowing pikas may produce multiple large litters each season. The steppe pika (O. pusilla) has been reported to have litters of as many as 13 young and breed up to five times in a year.

The degree of social behaviour also varies. Rock-dwelling pikas are relatively asocial, claiming widely spaced, scent-marked territories. They communicate their presence to one another by frequently uttering a short call (generally an “eenk” or “ehh-ehh”). Thus, rock-dwelling pikas are able to keep track of neighbours, directly encountering them only once or twice a day. Such encounters normally result in aggressive chases. In contrast, burrowing pikas live in family groups, and these groups occupy and defend a mutual territory. Within the group, social encounters are numerous and generally amicable. Pikas of all ages and both sexes may groom each other, rub noses, or sit side-by-side. Aggressive encounters, normally in the form of long chases, ensue only when an individual from one family group trespasses on the territory of another. Burrowing pikas also have a much larger vocal repertoire than rock-dwelling pikas. Many of these calls signal cohesion within family groups, especially among young from sequential litters or between males and juveniles. All pikas utter short alarm calls when predators are sighted. Males give a long call, or song, during the mating season.

Unlike rabbits and hares, pikas are active during the day, with the exception of the nocturnal steppe pikas (O. pusilla). Being largely alpine or boreal species, most pikas are adapted to living in cold environments and cannot tolerate heat. When temperatures are high, they confine their activity to early morning and late afternoon. Pikas do not hibernate, and they are generalized herbivores. Where snow blankets their environment (as is often the case), they construct caches of vegetation called haypiles to provide food during winter. A characteristic behaviour of rock-dwelling pikas during summer is their repeated trips to meadows adjoining the talus to harvest plants for the haypile. One often repeated but untrue tale is that pikas lay their hay on rocks to dry before storing it. Rather, pikas carry their provisions straight to their haypile unless disturbed. Similar to other lagomorphs, pikas practice coprophagy (see rabbit) to provide additional vitamins and nutrients from their relatively poor-quality forage.

Most pikas live in areas far away from people, yet, given the high densities reached by some burrowing pikas, they have been considered pests on the Tibetan plateau, where pikas are thought to reduce forage for domestic livestock and to damage grasslands. In response, government agencies in China have poisoned them over great expanses. Recent analyses, however, have shown that such control efforts may be misguided, as the pika is a keystone species for biodiversity in this region. Four Asian pikas—three in China and one in Russia and Kazakhstan—are listed as endangered species. One of these, Koslov’s pika (O. koslowi) from China, was originally collected by the Russian explorer Nikolai Przewalski in 1884, and approximately 100 years passed before it was seen again. Not only is this species apparently rare, but it may be in danger of being poisoned as part of control efforts directed at plateau pikas.

Pikas have a variety of common names, most applied to particular forms or species. The names mouse hare and cony are sometimes used, although the pika is neither mouse nor hare, and cony may be confused with the unrelated hyrax—the biblical coney. The genus name originates from the Mongolian ochodona, and the term pika comes from the vernacular piika of the Tunguses, a tribe from northeastern Siberia. Ochotona is the sole living genus of the family Ochotonidae, and its members lack several special skeletal modifications present in hares and rabbits (family Leporidae), such as a highly arched skull, relatively upright posture of the head, strong hind limbs and pelvic girdle, and elongation of limbs. The family Ochotonidae was clearly differentiated from the other lagomorphs as early as the Oligocene Epoch. Ochotona first appeared in the fossil record in the Pliocene in eastern Europe, Asia, and western North America. Its origin was probably in Asia. By the Pleistocene, Ochotona was found in the eastern United States and as far west in Europe as Great Britain. This extensive spread was followed by restriction to its present range. One fossil pika (genus Prolagus) apparently lived during historical time. Its remains have been found on Corsica, Sardinia, and adjacent small islands. Earlier fossil material has been found on the mainland of Italy. Apparently it was still present up to 2,000 years ago but was driven to extinction, likely owing to habitat loss and to competition and predation from introduced animals.


Habitat specialisation is a key factor influencing species occurrence in different habitat types, shown for e.g. birds (Batáry et al. 2012) or arthropods (Petit and Usher 1998, Fischer et al. 2013). Studies have shown that small mammal forest specialists avoid the open agricultural matrix and are consistently found in forests and, in accordance to our results, in other woody landscape elements such as forest edges and hedges (Pollard and Relton 1970, Kotzageorgis and Mason 1996, Bentley et al. 2000). Even though our results show effects of habitat type (forest edge versus hedge) on abundance of forest specialists, we could not show an effect of isolation (connected versus isolated hedges). Studies on small mammals in forests have shown negative effects of increasing isolation when focusing on single species, such as Myodes glareolus and Apodemus sylvaticus (Kozakiewicz 1985, Paillat and Butet 1996, Fitzgibbon 1997, but see Szacki 1987). This is in accordance to our data, as forest edges in our study were linear woody landscape elements sharing half of their borders with the forest while connected and isolated hedges were less or not connected to forests. As habitat connectivity can influence immigration and population growth of forest specialists, with higher immigration, as well as growth rates in well-connected habitats than in isolated habitats, (Fahrig and Merriam 1985, Kozakiewicz 1985, Guivier et al. 2011), one would expect lower abundances of forest specialists in isolated than in connected hedges. In contrast, emigration from isolated habitats may be lower due to high matrix-patch contrast, influencing annual population densities positively (Fitzgibbon 1997). Here, distances of at least 300 m to the nearest forest seem to be still sufficient for forest specialists to reach hedges without structural connectivity to their main habitat. This is also supported by the population density ratio of forest specialists and habitat generalists: forest specialists showed overall higher population densities than habitat generalists in forest edges and connected hedges while they were similar in isolated hedges. Further, not only woody structures but also marginal habitats, such as road verges (Bellamy et al. 2000, Broughton et al. 2014), as well as other factors such as habitat configuration in terms of habitat linearity (Tattersall et al. 2002) seem to be important for the occurrence of habitat specialists possibly leading to non-significant effects of isolation in our study.

How to Identify Shrews, Moles & Voles

Moles, shrews and voles are all small animals that scurry around the yard and garden, and it's easy to confuse them. However, they are very different critters. Moles and shrews are beneficial animals in the garden, eating insect pests and aerating the soil. On the other hand, voles can damage trees by gnawing their bark, and they can also eat garden veggies like potatoes and carrots. Learning to tell the different between these rodents can help you make informed pest control decisions.

See if the animal in question is furry. If not, then it mostly likely isn't a mole, vole or shrew. A few exceptions exist, such as the naked mole rat of East Africa, but you aren't likely to find these unusual species in your garden.

How big is the animal? The world's largest mole is the Russian desman, a mere 8 inches long, while the largest vole reaches just over 9 inches. All species of shrew are considerably smaller.

Observe the animal to see if it digs and lives in a tunnel. If not, then it may be a mouse, squirrel or other woodland mammal. Moles, voles and shrews live primarily underground and rarely, if ever, emerge from their holes.

If its front paws are two to three times thicker than its hind paws, then it is a mole. Generally, moles span 5 to 7 inches from snout to tail.

Like the mole, voles are 5 to 7 inches long. Distinguish mature voles from moles by their front paws, which are roughly the same size as their hind paws.

If its front and hind paws are roughly the same size and it is only 4 to 5 inches in length, then you have a shrew. Remember, however, that shrews live underground. Otherwise, they may be easily confused for mice.


Avoid handling wild shrews, as their bites are venomous. Although not deadly for humans, their bites can still cause considerable discomfort.

Identification of a small mammal - Biology

Common Name: Small Indian Mongoose, Indian Mongoose, Javan Mongoose

Scientific Name: Herpestes auropunctatus (Hodgson, 1836)
Synonyms: Herpestes javanicus (Geoffroy, 1818)

Classification: Phylum or Division: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Herpestidae
Subfamily: Herpestinae

Identification: The small Indian mongoose is a small, slender animal with short legs and small rounded ears located on the side of its head. It has soft short fur, usually pale to dark brown with golden flecks, but may vary seasonally and individually. It has a pale underside and a bushy tail, which is at least two thirds the length of its body. Head and body length is from 25 cm to 41 cm. Eyes are amber/brown in adults, blue/green in juveniles. Adult weight is between 60 to 1200 grams. Males tend to be slightly larger than females. H.auropunctatus is small in size compared to other mongoose species.

Original Distribution: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam.

Current Distribution: Found on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai and Oahu. So far, it has been successfully kept out of Kauai.

Site and Date of Introduction: Established in Antigua, Anguilla, Caribbean, Comores, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Hawaii (1883), Jamaica (1872), Japan, Mauritius, Puerto Rico, Surinam, West Indies (1870's), and the island of Korcula in the Mediterranean, and other tropical regions.

Mode(s) of Introduction: Introduced to islands for biological control of rats and snakes in agricultural (sugarcane) habitats, from which the animals have quickly spread throughout the surrounding areas.

Reason(s) Why it has Become Established: Small Indian mongooses are generalist feeders, agile and have the ability to adapt to new surroundings. Most islands lack predators and native species have not evolved anti predator tactics, providing a safe environment and an easy food base for mongooses. H.auropunctatus has both a high rate of reproduction (breeds two or three times a year, litters of three) and a young age of first reproduction (females can breed at the age of 10 weeks). A female can produce up to 36 individuals in a typical four year life span.

Ecological Role: Not much is known about the ecology of this species in its native ranges. H.auropunctatus is solitary, lives in burrows and is diurnal. It feeds on a wide variety of small vertebrates, eggs and young of larger vertebrates (e.g. sea turtle eggs), large invertebrates and occasionally, fruits and vegetation. The small Indian mongoose has well developed carnassial teeth used to tear flesh. Its feet have four or five digits each with long non retractile claws, which are adapted for digging up invertebrates. The small Indian mongoose is a voracious and opportunistic predator of a variety of native species and live stock on islands where it has been introduced.

Benefit(s): Controls the Asiatic rat and snakes in agricultural areas.

Threat(s): H.auropunctatus is a predator of birds (especially ground nesters), small mammals and reptiles (especially snakes and iguanas). Its impact on invertebrates is not known. It is a vector and reservoir of rabies and leptospirosis in Puerto Rico and other islands and causes economic losses to game species and the poultry industry. H.auropunctatus has already caused at least 7 amphibian and reptile extinctions in Puerto Rico and other islands in the West Indies. The Indian mongoose has been linked with either the proximate or ultimate cause of extinction in five endemic vertebrates in Jamaica: one lizard -- Giant galliwasp (Celestrus occiduus), one snake -- Black racer (Alsophis ater), two birds -- Jamaican Poor-will (Siphonorhis americanus) and Jamaican Petrel (Pterodroma caribbaea), and one rodent -- Jamaican rice rat (Oryzomys antillurum).

Control Level Diagnosis: Highest Priority. The IUCN lists the small Indian mongoose as one of the top 100 world's worst invaders. Most endemic island species are naturally vulnerable, occurring in small isolated populations and ranging over small areas. Based on the public health damages, killing of poultry, extinctions of amphibians, reptiles, and destruction of native birds, it is estimated that this mongoose is causing $50 million in damages each year in Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands alone.

Control Method: Trapping has been used extensively on many nature reserves. Animals have also been shot or poisoned, using either drops of poison or baiting with poisoned carrion. The success of these control methods was not noted. Because of the widespread destruction to native fauna, it is currently illegal to import mongooses into the United States. Laws should discourage further human facilitated introductions on island or other non-native habitats. More studies need to be done on the ecology, population structure, density, distribution and rates of recolonization after population removal from selected areas of H.auropunctatus to develop models to evaluate the effectiveness of different management regimes. One such study was proposed for Mauritius, using methods such as mark and recapture, radio telemetry and dietary analysis.

Creekmore, T. E. et al. 1994. Field evaluation of baits and baiting strategies for delivering oral vaccine to mongooses in Antigua, West Indies.
Journal Of Wildlife Diseases. 30: 497-505.

Watch the video: Μικρός Οδηγός Αναγνώρισης Πουλιών Ελλάδας (January 2022).