Interesting facts about Desmans – feeding behavior, nest building and habitat

Interesting facts about Desmans – feeding behavior, nest building and habitat

The desmans, which are two species, have a completely different way of life. The predatory Pyrenean Desman Galemys pyrenaicus is restricted to permanent, fast-flowing streams of the Pyrenees mountain range and parts of northern Iberia, the Russian Desman Desmana Desmana moschata is only found in the slower moving waters and lakes of the western and central Soviet Union Just like moles are superbly adapted for a fossorial lifestyle, as are desmans for water.

The Pyrenean desman’s streamlined body allows it to glide quickly through the water, propelled by powerful webbed hind limbs and steered to some extent by its long. wide tail.

For any animal living in snow-covered mountain streams, feeding and maintaining body heat are top priorities. Unlike hedgehogs or tenrecs, desmans do not go through periods of hibernation or torpor and therefore must live in optimal habitats to ensure their survival during the winter months when prey is scarcest.

What do Desmans eat?

Desmans feed on the larvae of aquatic insects As well as stonefly and fly incenseas well as of small crustaceans, which they locate by feeling their proboscis-like snouts under small stones and by cleaning debris from the stream bed with their sharp elongated claws. The prey is consumed at the surface, where after each dive the body is rigorously processed. This is an important activity as it ensures that the coat is not only kept clean and in good condition, but also maintains its water-repellent properties through oil throughout the body from the distribution of the sebaceous glands.

How do they build nests?

Desmans build their nests on the banks of streams. The Russian desman actually digs an elaborate burrow that it can share with other desmans, while the smaller Pyrenean species occupy a strictly solitary nest, usually created by widening a pre-existing tunnel or crevice. The nests are composed of leaves and dried grasses and are always located above the water level.

The reproductive period

Little is known about the reproductive behavior of desmans. In the Pyrenean desman, mating takes place in the spring (March to April) and as these animals usually form a stable pair bond, competition for mates from single males is often quite severe. At this time of the year, an interesting phenomenon occurs for each pair of animals: the males become much more defensive, spending most of their active time in the upper and lower reaches of their river territory. In this way, energy is expended to protect the food resources of that territory and, more importantly, the female. Females, on the contrary, spend most of their active time feeding, searching for a suitable nesting site and collecting nesting materials.

The cubs are born after a gestation period of about four weeks and are cared for solely by the female. The young leave the nest for the first time at about seven weeks, by which time they are already proficient swimmers. The young remain in the parents’ territory until they are about two and a half months old, at which point they leave to secure a mate and breeding territory for the following year.

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