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Desmana moschata

Desmana moschata, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Ordo: Soricomorpha
Familia: Talpidae
Subfamilia: Talpinae
Tribe: Desmanini
Genus: Desmana
Species: Desmana moschata


Desmana moschata (Linnaeus, 1758)


* Desmana moschata on Mammal Species of the World.
Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 2 Volume Set edited by Don E. Wilson, DeeAnn M. Reeder
* IUCN link: Desmana moschata (Linnaeus, 1758) (Vulnerable)

Vernacular names
English: Russian Desman
Polski: Wychuchol ukraiński

The Russian Desman (Desmana moschata) (Russian: выхухоль) is a small semi-aquatic mammal that inhabits the Volga, Don and Ural River basins in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. It constructs burrows into the banks of ponds and slow moving streams, but prefers small, overgrown ponds with abundance of insects, crayfish and amphibians. The Russian Desman often lives in small (usually non-kin related) groups of 2 to 5 animals and appears to have a complex (but largely unstudied) communication and social system.

The Russian Desman is the only species of the genus Desmana. Despite its outward similarity to muskrats (a rodent), the Russian Desman is actually part of the mole family Talpidae in the order Soricomorpha. Like other moles, it is functionally blind and obtains much of its sensory input from the touch sensitive Eimer's organs at the end of its long, bi-lobed snout. However, the hind feet are webbed and the tail laterally flatened—specializations for its aquatic habitat. The body is 18 to 21 centimetres (7.1 to 8.3 in) long while the tail is 17 to 20 centimetres (6.7 to 7.9 in) in length. Easily the largest species of mole, it weighs 400 to 520 grams (14 to 18 oz).
Desmana moschata

Decidedly rich and thick in nature, desman fur used to be highly sought after by the fur trade. Consequently, the Russian Desman is now a protected species under Russian law. Unfortunately, due to loss of habitat (farming), water pollution, illegal fishing nets, and the introduction of non-native species (e.g. muskrat), population levels continue to decline. In the mid-1970s, there were an estimated 70,000 desmans in the wild; by 2004 the figure was only 35,000. Fortunately, at least in some Russian regions, the number of desmans appears to be increasing.


1. ^ Hutterer, Rainer (16 November 2005). Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). pp. 303. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3.
2. ^ Insectivore Specialist Group (1996). Desmana moschata. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 2006-05-11. Listed as Vulnerable (VU B1+2c v2.3)

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