Shortsnouted sengi

Elephantulus brachyrhynchus

SUBFAMILY

Macroscelidinae (Soft-furred sengis)

TAXONOMY

Elephantulus brachyrhynchus (A. Smith, 1836), Kuruman, north Cape Province, South Africa.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Rat a trompe a museau court; German: Kurznasen-Elefantenspritzmaus, Kurznasenrüsselspringer; Spanish: Musaraña elefante hocicorta; Afrikaans: Kortneus klaasneus.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The weight of an adult short-snouted sengi runs 1.5-2 oz (40-60 g). Average body length is 8 in (210 mm), the tail length about the same. Short-snouted sengis have the mobile snout characteristic of all sengi species, but it is conspicuously shorter and more tapered. The soft fur varies in color, depending on geography and habitat, ranging from reddish yellow to yellowish brown to gray, rendering the animal cryptic in its various habitats. There is a faint white ring around each eye.

DISTRIBUTION

Elephantulus brachyrhynchus lives from northern South Africa and northeastern Namibia through Angola, southern Democra-tric Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Kenya, and Uganda.

HABITAT

Short-snouted sengis inhabit arid and semi-arid environments with wooded bushlands, dense grasslands, and scrub.

BEHAVIOR

Short-snouted sengis are diurnal and most active during the morning. They are primarily solitary but will occasionally live as monogamous pairs. They run frantically throughout their territory, avoiding areas without ground cover. Short-snouted sengis may dig their own burrows or move into abandoned rodent burrows. They foot-drum, in a regular and irregular pattern, as a warning or to facilitate mating.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The short-snouted sengi is primarily insectivorous, eating mostly ants and termites, nevertheless taking small amounts of green plant material, fruits, and seeds.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Some short-snouted sengis live as monogamous pairs. Reproduction occurs throughout the year, decreasing during cool months. The gestation period lasts between 57 and 65 days. The young weigh approximately 0.4 oz (10 g) at birth and reach adult size by 50 days. Usually one young is born, though occasionally litters of two or even three are born.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN. Short-snouted sengis, since they live in more or less marginal habitats, need fear little from humans.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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