Eliurus minor resides in a wide elevational distribution within Madagascar's moist evergreen forests. Specifically, these animals are found from Montagne d'Ambre in the north to the southern termini of the Anosyennes and Vohimena Mountains. There have been specimens collected from near sea level to 1875 m. (Garbutt, 1999; Goodman and Benstead, 2003)
Eliurus minor is the smallest member of the genus. It ranges from about 106.7 mm to 118.9 mm, not including the tail. Its weight ranges from 29.3 g to 40.9 g. The tail accounts for about 60% of the total length, measuring around 130.0 mm. The tail is usually dark-brown or blackish in color. Tuft-tailed rats have a soft, dense coat with moderately long hairs. The dorsal pelage is greyish-brown to cinnamon-brown with dark guard hairs, and the ventral pelage is a distinctly lighter color. (Garbutt, 1999; Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Nowak, 1997)
Little is know about the mating systems in this species. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003)
The litter size of E. minor ranges from 2 to 4. The breeding season of this species occurs in the last quarter or the year (October to December). There has been some evidence of increased levels of reproduction at higher elevations in populations of Eliurus, and this may occur in E. minor. Little is known about the gestation period or breeding interval of this species. Similarly, the times of weaning and sexual maturity are not known. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003)
Parental investment has not been documented for E. minor. However, as in all mammals, we can assume that these mice give birth to live young which the mother cares for in some type of nest or burrow. In all mammals, the mother provides her young with protection, grooming, and food, in the form of milk. The duration of maternal care is not known for E. minor, nor is the role of males in parental care.
The expected lifespan in E. minor has not been reported.
Eliurs minor has broad hindfeet, a long outer digit, highly developed plantar pads, and a tail longer than the body, all of which suggest an arboreal habit. Also, there have been specimens collected among boulders and rock outcrops, suggesting terrestrial activity. Beyond this, nothing is known about the behavior of these animals. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003)
Communication in E. minor has not been documented. However, we can assume that these animals are like other similar mammal. It is likely that there is some tactile communication, especially between mothers and their offspring and between mates. Scent cues probably play some role in communication, especially in relation to reproduction. Visual and vocal signals are probably also used, although they have not been documented.
From various fecal samples, there is evidence that E. minor may feed on coconut. Also, there have been findings of gnawed seeds in their habitat, and specimens have been caught in fruiting trees. It seems likely from this that these animals eat fruits and grains, although other dietary components cannot be ruled out. (Garbutt, 1999; Goodman and Benstead, 2003)
Known predators of E. minor are birds and mammals in forest communities. E. minor and E. webbi composed 61% of the prey recovered from regurgitated pellets of two owl species, Asio madagascariensis and Tyto soumagnei. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003)
Because gnawed seeds are found in conjunction with these animals, it can be speculated that they may be involved in destruction and possible dispersal of seeds. As prey, E. minor may be an important part of local food webs. These animals are also vectors for parasites and disease.
Elurius minor is not known to have any positive economic impact on humans.
Elurius minor is not known to have any negative economic impact on humans.
Although E. minor is not listed as endangered by CITES or IUCN, it is a member of a genus which occupies very threatened habitat. Nowak (1999) reports that other members of the genus are listed as endangered or near threatened. (Nowak, 1999)
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Maureen Belknap (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
union of egg and spermatozoan
an animal that mainly eats fruit
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
Garbutt, N. 1999. "Eliurus minor, Small Tuft-tailed Rat" (On-line). Accessed April 01, 2004 at http://info.bio.sunysb.edu/rano.biodiv/Mammals/Eliurus-minor/.
Goodman, S., J. Benstead. 2003. The Natural History of Madagascar. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Nowak, R. 1997. "Walker's Mammals of the World" (On-line). Rats, Mice Hamsters, Voles, Lemmings and Gerbils. Accessed November 04, 2004 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/rodentia/rodentia.muridae.html.