Russian desman Facts

Russian desman Facts
Russian desman is a type of small, aquatic mammal that belongs to the family Talpidae (its closest relatives are moles). It can be found in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Russian desman inhabits slow moving rivers, streams, lakes and ponds, and occasionally brackish water. Number of Russian desmans in the wild is drastically reduced during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century due to increased demand for their fur. Habitat destruction and pollution of aquatic ecosystems negatively affect survival of Russian desman today. Scientists estimate that current population of Russian desmans consists of around 30.000 animals. Russian desman is listed as vulnerable species, which means that it can become endangered in the near future.
Interesting Russian desman Facts:
Russian desman can reach 7.1 to 8.3 inches in length and 14 to 18 ounces of weight. Tail is usually 6.7 to 7.9 inches long.
Russian desman is covered with thick, waterproof double fur. Outer coat consists of stiff, long hairs. Soft undercoat consists of short, dense hairs. Fur is brown-reddish on the upper part of the body and grey-colored on the belly.
Russian desman has elongated, flexible snout and long, cylindrical body.
Russian desman has long, flattened tail that serves as a paddle. Partially webbed front feet and completely webbed hind feet facilitate movement of animal in the water. Unique morphology of tail and feet represent adaptation to the semi-aquatic life (animal spends part of its life in the water).
Russian desman has eyes, but they are not functional (animal is blind). Instead of eyes, Russian desman obtains sensory information from its environment via Eimer's organs (touch-sensitive organ located on the snout).
Russian desman also uses its snout as a snorkel. It is able to spend 5 minutes under the water before it returns to the surface of water to breathe.
Russian desman is active during the night (nocturnal animal).
Russian desman is an omnivore (it eats plants and meat). Its diet consists of at least 72 types of aquatic invertebrates and 30 different plant species. Other than that, Russian desman consumes insects, fish and amphibians.
Russian desman digs burrows on the river banks. Burrows are equipped with underwater entrances.
Russian desmans are gregarious animals. Group of up to 8 unrelated individuals often share one nest.
Russian desman uses sounds for communication and lives in organized society, but little is known about the life in community.
Russian desmans are territorial animals. They use musky smell produced in the glands located at the base of the tail to mark their territories.
Russian desmans reproduce twice per year and produce offspring during the spring and autumn.
Female gives birth to 3 to 5 babies that reach sexual maturity at the age of 12 months.
Russian desmans rarely can survive more than 3 years in the wild.

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