Pyrenean Desman

Pyrenean Desman

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Subfamily
Tribe
Genus
SPECIES
Galemys pyrenaicus
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
3.5 yrs
WEIGHT
35-80 g
LENGTH
11-14 cm

The Pyrenean desman is a small semiaquatic, globally threatened mammal related to moles and shrews. These animals are covered in dark, brownish fur, with the exception of their tail and nose. The nose is black and is covered in vibrissae (facial hairs), which desmans use to feel the movement of prey as they stick their nose into mud or crevices while searching for food. Pyrenean desmans have large webbed feet with fringed hairs to increase the swimming surface and can close off their nostrils and ears to stop water penetration.

Video

Distribution

Pyrenean desmans are found in north and central parts of Spain and Portugal, French Pyrenees, and Andorra. They mostly occur in fast-flowing, mountainous rivers with shallow waters and good riparian galleries. Pyrenean desmans may also occur in canals, lakes, and marshes.

Pyrenean Desman habitat map

Geography

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Pyrenean desmans are nocturnal and territorial animals. Males have a slightly larger territory than females and both males and females scent mark. They are thought to be aggressive towards other adult members of the species. Pyrenean desmans are proficient swimmers, suited to their aquatic habitat, although their claws also allow them to be good at climbing. During the day they shelter in crevices among stones and roots in stream banks or in burrows constructed by water voles. Sometimes they may also dig their own burrows.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Pyrenean desmans are carnivores (insectivores). Their diet consists of aquatic insect larvae and nymphs, crustaceans, and sometimes fish.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
January-May
PREGNANCY DURATION
30 days
BABY CARRYING
3-4 pups
FEMALE NAME
sow
MALE NAME
boar
BABY NAME
pup

Pyrenean desmans are monogamous and both males and females have only one partner during the breeding season. They breed up to three times a year, usually from January to May. The gestation period lasts around thirty days. Females give birth to 3-4 pups in each litter. Young desmans become reproductively mature when they are 2 years old.

Population

Population threats

Main threats to Pyrenean desmans include habitat fragmentation and water pollution. They also suffer from fishermen who believe that desmans are a threat to fish stocks, especially trout, or from over-eager collectors. Other threats include invasive species, like American mink who escape from fur farms, and climate change.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Pyrenean desman is unknown. However, there is an estimated population of the species in Portugal which contains less than 10,000 mature individuals. Currently, Pyrenean desmans are classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

References

1. Pyrenean Desman on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrenean_desman
2. Pyrenean Desman on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/8826/12934876

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