Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 11:32 EDT

Common Kusimanse

The Common Kusimanse (Crossarchus obscurus), also known as the Long-nosed Kusimanse, is a small, diurnal kusimanse or dwarf mongoose. The Common Kusimanse is found in the west African countries of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and it has been exported to various other countries for the pet trade. It differs from other mongooses primarily in its choice of habitat, which is generally forested areas near water, whereas most species of mongoose tend to prefer open grasslands, or semi-arid brush. It can be found from sea level to elevations of 3280 ft.

The Common Kusimanse has a vaguely weasel-shaped body with dark brown fur that is thick, with a wiry texture down the back, and fine and soft on the underside. It has short legs, a short, relatively stiff tail, long claws, small ears, small, dark colored eyes, and an elongated nose. Adult size is typically around 13 inches with a weight of approximately 2.2 pounds. It is capable of climbing, but tends to restrict most of its activities to the ground. It is very territorial, and will mark the group’s territory with anal scent glands, and defend it vehemently against intruders, even those of a much larger size.

The group is nomadic, not spending much time in one particular area of their territory. As they move from place to place, they find shelter in tree hollows, other animal’s burrows, or termite mounds. Kusimanses are active foragers, and excellent diggers, which feed on a wide variety of things. Their diet is primarily carnivorous, consisting of insects, larvae, fresh water crabs, small reptiles, and small rodents. They have excellent eyesight and keen sense of smell, making them adept small prey hunters. They prefer to kill their prey with a single bite to the back of the neck. They will also consume various types of fruits and berries in small quantity.

Due to their hierarchical social structure, only the primary members of a family group are permitted to breed. Subordinate offspring are often killed and eaten by the more dominant members of the group. Sexual maturity is reached between nine months of age to a year old. Females go into estrus up to nine times a year. Males initiate and terminate copulation without much courting. Gestation is approximately eight weeks, and each litter averages 2-4 babies. Females are capable of having three litters per year. Babies are born with their eyes closed, and a thick undercoat of fur. After about twelve days, they begin to open their eyes and explore their environment. At around three weeks the mother weans them, their guard hairs begin to grow in, and they actively forage on their own. They do not grow to adult size until around 6-9 months of age.

Common Kusimanse