Animal Info - Nimba Otter Shrew


(Other Names: Mount Nimba Least Otter Shrew, Mount Nimba Otter Shrew)

Micropotamogale lamottei

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Birth Rate, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization)
5. References


Profile

The Nimba otter shrew has a fleshy nose, rounded head, compact body, and long tail. Long, gray or dark brown fur usually hides the eyes and most of the ears. It is about 15 cm (6") long and weighs up to 125 g (4 oz).

The Nimba otter shrew requires moist forest or forest-savanna-cultivation mosaics. It occurs in swampy areas and in small rivers and upland forest streams. The Nimba otter shrew is an opportunistic feeder, taking a wide variety of invertebrates, as well as some fish and vegetable matter. Crustacea are the main prey, including crabs of up to 5 - 7 cm (2 - 3") across the carapace. The Nimba otter shrew is nocturnal and semiaquatic. It is thought to locate most of its food (much of it underwater) by touch, using the stiff whiskers in its flattened muzzle. It catches prey on short dives or along river banks, and eats them on land. A short nesting burrow is dug in soft soil. The Nimba otter shrew is solitary.

The Nimba otter shrew was first described by Western scientists in 1954. It is confined to an area less than 5,000 sq km (1900 sq mi), which is severely fragmented and still declining. The Nimba otter shrew is known only from the Nimba mountains of Liberia, Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire, and the mountains of the Putu Range, Liberia. This is a very restricted area, with the most distant recorded localities only 380 km (240 mi) apart. Habitat loss, especially water pollution, due to mining activities is a threat to the Nimba otter shrew. In the Liberian part of its range, mining activities have had a severe impact on its habitat. Bauxite mining in neighboring Guinea is a potential threat there as well. 


Tidbits

*** The Nimba otter shrew was first described by Western science in 1954. 

*** The Nimba otter shrew is probably the least aquatic otter shrew, having no webbing and a rounded tail.

*** This otter shrew is thought to have considerable strength. It damages fish traps, killing the fish in the trap, and then, unable to escape, it drowns.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Nimba Otter Shrew Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia (IUCN 2004).

History of Distribution:

The Nimba otter shrew was first described by Western scientists in 1954. It is confined to an area less than 5,000 sq km (1900 sq mi), which is severely fragmented and still declining. The Nimba otter shrew is known only from the Nimba mountains of Liberia, Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire, and the mountains of the Putu Range, Liberia. This is a very restricted area, with the most distant recorded localities only 380 km (240 mi) apart. (IUCN 2006)

Distribution Map (13 Kb GIF) (African Mammals Databank 2004)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Habitat loss, especially water pollution, due to mining activities is a threat to the Nimba otter shrew. In the Liberian part of its range, mining activities have had a severe impact on its habitat. Bauxite mining in neighboring Guinea is a potential threat there as well (IUCN 2004)


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The head and body length of the Nimba otter shrew is 12 - 20 cm (4.7 - 8"). It weighs up to 125 g (4 oz). (Burnie & Wilson 2001)

Habitat:

The Nimba otter shrew requires moist forest or forest-savanna-cultivation mosaics. It occurs in swampy areas and in small rivers and upland forest streams.

The Nimba otter shrew is one of the species that live in both the Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl.) and the Guinean Moist Forests Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Birth Rate:

One captured female Nimba otter shrew had 4 embryos.

Diet:

The Nimba otter shrew is an opportunistic feeder, taking a wide variety of invertebrates, as well as some fish and vegetable matter. Crustacea are the main prey, including crabs of up to 5 - 7 cm (2 - 3") across the carapace.

Behavior:

The Nimba otter shrew is nocturnal and semiaquatic. It is thought to locate most of its food (much of it underwater) by touch, using the stiff whiskers in its flattened muzzle. It catches prey on short dives or along river banks, and eats them on land. A short nesting burrow is dug in soft soil. 

Social Organization:

The Nimba otter shrew is solitary (Burnie & Wilson 2001).


References

African Mammals Databank 2004, Burnie & Wilson 2001, Cons. Intl., IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2006, Kingdon 1997, Macdonald 1984, Nicoll & Rathbun 1990, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Stuart & Stuart 1996


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Last modified: May 22, 2006;

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