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Latin name: Desmana moschata
Family: Molehills

A desman or a Russian desman is a mammal of the family of the worm order Soricomorpha. One of the two kinds of subfamily Desmaninae, sometimes allocated as a family; The second species is the Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus).


Desman is a relic species, endemic on the territory of Russia. In prehistoric times, it was found in Europe right up to the British Isles. Its modern natural area is of a broken nature and is mainly confined to the Dnieper basins, The Volga, The Don and The Urals. She also lives in Kazakhstan; In Ukraine, in Lithuania and Belarus occasionally. In the Dnieper basin (in the European part of Russia), a desman is found along the rivers Iput, Vyazma, Ostrov, Seim, Swap of Smolensk, Bryansk and Kursk regions. In the Don basin, along the Voronezh, Bityug, Khopyor and their tributaries (Voronezh, Tambov, Lipetsk, Saratov, Penza and Volgograd regions). In the upper reaches The Volga Occurs along the rivers Kotorosl (Yaroslavl region) and Unzh (Kostroma region). It is noted in the lower reaches of the Klyazma (Vladimirskaya and Ivanovo regions), along the lower course of the Moksha and in the Tsna (Ryazan and Tambov regions). It is common in the lower reaches of the Oka River (Vladimirskaya, Ryazan and Nizhny Novgorod Regions). However, this population is threatened by the rise of the Cheboksary reservoir. In the middle of the Volga River it meets along the Sure River (Penza, Ulyanovsk Region) and along the Alatyr River in Mordovia. Lower in the Volga desman is rare. Released in 1961 in the Chelyabinsk region, the muskrats settled down along the river Ui in the Kurgan region and moved to the floodplain of Tobol. Kozhevnikovsky district of the Tomsk region in a special reserve.


The Russian muskrug is a relatively large beast: the body is 18-22 in length, the tail is the same, weight is up to 520. The tail is covered with horny scales, and along its top is also the stiff hair forming the keel. At the very base, the tail is as if drawn (has the smallest diameter). After the interception (in the first third of the length of the tail) a pear-shaped thickening follows. It contains specific (musky, odorous) glands, oily musk of which is squeezed through numerous holes located on the underside of the thickening. The thickening of the tail is strongly compressed laterally. The nasal apertures are also closed with a special valve in the nasal cavity. Vibrissae very long; The body grows sensitive hairs. The limbs are rather short, 5-like, the hind legs are larger and wider than the forelegs. The fingers to the claws are joined by the swimming membrane. The claws are well developed, long, slightly curved. On the edges of all the paws there is a rim of stiff bristly hair, which increases the swimming surface of the paws. The fur of the musk deer is thick, velvety, very durable, the hairs of the fur are not arranged like in all animals: they expand to the top, and narrow to the root. The color of the back is grayish or dark brown, the abdomen is silvery-gray or silvery-white. Fur retains air so well that it hosts a parasite - a beetle (Silphopsyllus desmanae), not adapted to breathing in water. Teeth from the desmanis - 44. Desman is almost blind, but has a developed sense of smell and touch.


The most favorable habitat for the desman is the closed floodplain reservoirs (such as old men) with the area of ​​the water mirror 0,1 - 0,5 ha, and the depth 1,3 - 5,0 m, with areas of low but dry steep banks with aquatic vegetation and the proximity of the floodplain forest. For most of the year the animals live in holes with one outlet each. The output opens under water. The main part of the move, located above the water level, goes almost horizontally on 2,5 - 3,0 m and is equipped with 2 - 3 extensions (chambers). During the flood, the cells are flooded, the animals leave and hide on semi-submerged trees, in heaps of sediment or in shallow temporary burrows dug in unflooded areas of the indigenous shore. At the bottom of the reservoir between the entrances to two adjacent burrows a trench is laid, which cuts through the entire thickness of the silt, to a sandy base. In summer, muskrats live singly, in pairs or in families, and in winter they can live up to 12 - 13 animals of different sex and age in the same hole. Each animal has temporarily visited holes, located at a distance of 25 - 30 m from one another. Such a distance the desman floats along the connecting trench for a normal period of her stay under water - for 1 minute (although it can stay in the water column until 3 - 4 minutes). When the animal moves along the bottom trench, it gradually exhales the small bubbles gathered into the light air. Under the pressure of water, the bubbles also emerge from the thickness of the fur cover. In winter, air bubbles accumulate above the trench below the bottom surface of the ice and gradually freeze into it in the form of voids of different sizes. Ice over the trench becomes porous and fragile. Due to air bubbles under the ice above the bottom trench of the muskrat, conditions for better aeration, attracting mollusks, leeches and fry are created. Apparently, the smell of musk, some doses of which create a fragrant trail over the trench, also has an attractive effect on them. A desman does not rush through the bottom of the reservoir in search of food, but moves through a system of trenches, to which her victims themselves actively contract. In the case of life-threatening desquamations, early ice floods break down primarily along a line with high porosity (above the trenches); Through the cracks formed, the animals escape from flooding and certain death. With frequent winter water upwalls, the musk deer are flooded. Ice, even if it is porous, does not always create a wide crack sufficient to release the animal to the surface. In the flooded hole, the desman dies in 5 - 6 minutes. In very dry years floodplain reservoirs become shallow or completely dry out. Find another reservoir - a problem for the desman not from the lungs. The animal is almost blind (it does not distinguish contours), it is club-footed (long fingers of hind legs are strongly curved). On the earth's surface the desman can not move quickly and becomes a victim of predators.


Sexual maturity occurs at the age of 10-11 months. During the spring flood, the desecrated monkeys are connected in pairs. In the quiet days of this period they produce peculiar sounds: males loudly chirp, females make gentle, melodic sounds. The gon is accompanied by fights between the males. After 45-50 days of pregnancy is born from 1 to 5 cubs, blind, naked and helpless. The weight of the newborn 2-3,3 g (almost half the size of the newborn rat). Nest camera is at a shallow depth, the air temperature in it during the winter months is low. The female arranges a nest of wet plants collected at the bottom of the reservoir. Returning to the hole after feeding, the female shakes off the water. Fur does not get wet, but on its surface can remain film and drops of water, the temperature of which is close to zero. In this situation, there are tiny, naked, blind, helpless cubs of the Russian desman. Birth spikes occur at the end of May - June and November - December. Litter in the year 2. If the female is disturbed, she carries the offspring to another burrow, planting it on its back. The male is at the brood. At a month's age, cubs begin to feed adult food; In 4-5 months become independent.

Status of the population

Desman is a rare endemic species listed in the Red Book of Russia with the category 2: a rare relic species that decreases in numbers. To such a deplorable situation, decimals in Russia were caused by such factors as deforestation of floodplain forests, pollution of reservoirs where animals live, drainage of floodplains, which worsens conditions for foraging and protection, construction of dams and dams, as well as construction on the banks of reservoirs, creation of reservoirs , Grazing near the ponds. Currently, the muskrat can be maintained thanks to methods and non-traditional organizational forms. Namely, the creation of specialized hunting farms, the main principle of which is the rational use and protection of these animals.

The area of ​​the muskrat is small, since there are few reservoirs that are favorable for it. Natural factors that adversely affect its abundance include long winter floods and high floods. With winter climbs, the burrows of the desmanads are flooded, and they sink. In arid summer floodplain reservoirs become shallow and dry up, and muskrats need to look for a new place of residence. On the ground, muskrats due to poor vision and sluggishness are practically defenseless, although predators rarely eat them because of a strong musky odor. They are sometimes attacked by ermines, ferrets, otters, foxes, stray dogs and cats; Of birds - the marsh harrier, the black kite, the osprey, the golden eagle, the big eagle eagle, the eagle owl, the gray owl, even the gray crow and magpie. Underwater, they are hunted by pikes and large catfishes. The wild boars, tearing up the ground, and even grazing cattle also damage the muskrats. But the greatest pressure on them has introduced species - the American mink and muskrat; The latter actively supersedes the desman, occupying its burrows. However, the main reduction in the range and number of desman is due to anthropogenic factors: net fishing, economic conversion of floodplains (drainage, abstraction of water for irrigation, deforestation), grazing, water pollution.


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