Broad-striped mongooses are found only in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar. These mongooses have been reported from the Mananara-Nord region in the north to the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale (RNI) d'Andohahela in the south. Other than second-hand reports, there is currently no firm evidence of Galidictis fasciata distribution further north than the Marojejy Massif, which is south of the Masoala Peninsula located in the extreme northeastern portion of the island. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Garbutt, 1999; Goodman and Pidgeon, 1998; Goodman, 1996; Nowak, 1999)
Observations of the distribution of G. fasciata range from 440 meters to approximately 1500 meters elevation, from lowland to montane forest. Although mostly terrestrial, broad-striped mongooses have been observed climbing in trees, and on large, fallen logs. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Goodman and Pidgeon, 1998)
Broad-striped mongooses have nimble, low to the ground bodies. They are small to medium in size, comparable to American martens. They have short legs and long bushy tails. Their heads are long, slender and dorso-ventrally flattened with a pointed rostrum. Broad-striped mongooses may be confused with the introduced carnivore Viverricula indica which has similar coloration. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Nowak, 1999)
Galidictis fasciata can be identified by its distinctive grey-beige pelage extending to the under-belly. The body has about five longitudinal dark brown or black stripes that are broader than the creamy-beige spaces separating them, and continue from the nape dorsally to about one third the length of the tail. The top of the head is darker than the cheeks, chin and throat. The very distinctive tails are a creamy white. Ears are small and are covered with short, fine fur. The only other species of Galidictis, Galadictis grandidieri, has dark stipes which are narrower than the lighter spaces; the outermost portion of the ear lacks fur. (Garbutt, 1999; Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Nowak, 1999)
Various sources list weights between 500 and 800 grams, with a mean adult body mass of 605 grams. Length of head and body is 320 to 340 mm and tail length is 280 to 300 mm. Females are slightly smaller and lighter than males. Feet have longer digits, longer claws, and less webbing than other herpestids. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Goodman and Pidgeon, 1998)
Currently, knowledge is lacking about the reproductive activities of G. fasciata. Garbutt (1999) suggests that these rarely seen animals are probably pair bonded, and so are likely to be monogamous. The lack of highly developed sexual dimorphism supports this possible mating system. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Garbutt, 1999; Nowak, 1999)
Seasonality and reproductive activity of G. fasciata and its close relative G. grandidieri are currently not known. A female captured in November did not show reproductive characteristics. It has been determined that the maximum number of mammae is two. Males captured in October and late November did have scrotal testes volume of 1884 mm. This species has been observed to have a maximum litter size of one. (Garbutt, 1999; Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Nowak, 1999)
Other herpestids found on Madagascar may provide some clues about the reproduction of this rarely seen mammal. Malagasy ring-tailed mongooses breed seasonally, from April until November. Young are born between July and February, after a gestation of 79 to 92 days. Conversely, Malagasy narrow-striped mongooses breed from December to April, with mating peaking in the Malagasy summer months of February and March. These mongooses have a slightly longer gestation period, reported as 90 to 105 days. Both of these herspestid species typically give birth to a single young. In the latter species, the young is weaned at about 2 months of age. In both species, the young appear to reach sexual maturity around 2 years of age, and have an extended association with parents. Galidictis fasciata is probably similar to the other Malagasy herpestids in these characteristics, but more research is needed to know for sure. (Nowak, 1999; Nowak, 1999)
Nothing is known about parental investment of G. fasciata. Depite paucity of data, we can reasonably infer that females care for the young, providing them with shelter, milk, and protection at least until the time of weaning. If G. fasciata is like other Malagasy herpestids, specifically Mungotictis decemlineata, the young may remain with the mother until sexually mature, around the age of 2 years. The role of males in parental care is not known, and further research is needed to clarify the exact relationship between the mother and her young. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Garbutt, 1999; Nowak, 1999)
Although accounts do exist of Galidictis species in captivity, these do not incorporate data from any extended period of time. Otherwise, little is known about the lifespan of broad-striped mongooses. Other Malagasy mongooses kept in captivity show a great variation in lifespan. A Malagasy ring-tailed mongoose is reported to have lived over 24 years in captivity. However, a Malagasy brown-tailed mongoose is reported to have lived only 4 years and 9 months. It is not known where in this spectrum of variation Galidictis species fall. (Garbutt, 1999; Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Nowak, 1999)
Broad-striped mongooses have not been extensively studied. This could be due to their strictly nocturnal habits. Trapping indicates that G. fasciata can be found off the ground on fallen logs, and along the ground. However, it is not known where they find shelter. (Garbutt, 1999; Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Goodman and Pidgeon, 1998; Nowak, 1999)
Most of the Malagasy herpestids are not terribly social. They are often found alone or in small family groups. Garbutt (1999) suggests that G. fasciata may be pair bonded, and so the sociality may extend to a mate and offspring in this species. Malagasy narrow-striped mongooses however, come together to breed during the Malagassy summer. During winter, these animals are reported to have small temporary untis, such as pairs, maternal groupings, all-male groups, and solitary males. Galidictis fasciata may have some social groupings like this other mongoose. Further study is needed to clarify the sociality of these animals. (Garbutt, 1999; Nowak, 1999)
Home range size has not been reported for these animals. However, M. decemlineata was recorded as using home ranges of about 300 hectares. Galadictis fasciata may have a similar range size. (Nowak, 1999)
At this time, it is unknown how broad-striped mongooses communicate or perceive the environment. As mammals, it is likely that they use some combination of tactile, visual, chemical, and accoustic cues in dealing both with their environment and with each other.
It has been surmised that broad-striped mongooses feed largely on rodents, small lemurs, and even reptiles and amphibians. There isn't any strong evidence of G. fasciata eating lemurs. Also, it is suggested that they feed on invertebrates. Field studies of tropical forest carnivores may be difficult because of their nocturnal, often solitary habits, and difficulty in luring them into traps. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Garbutt, 1999; Nowak, 1999; Ray and Sunquist, 2001)
It is not known whether G. fasciata is preyed upon or not.
Because this species is so poorly studied, it is difficult to determine what role it plays within its ecosystem. As a predator, G. fasciata probably has some impact on prey populations. It may compete with other small carnivores, but details of such interactions are lacking.
No information is available on the positive economic importance G. fasciata has for humans.
There are no known adverse affects of G. fasciata on humans.
The IUCN currently lists G. fasciata as vunerable. Human advancement into the forests, logging, and clearing are decreasing habitat. There is competition for resources, mainly dietary, from small Indian civets, Viverricula indica, as well as from feral cats and dogs, all of which have been introduced. (Dollar, 2000)
The origin of the Malagasy mammalian fauna is a complicated mystery, mainly because of the island's poor Tertiary fossil record. The island of Madagascar has been surrounded by ocean for approximately 88 million years, which predates the age of origin for the four orders of terrestrial mammals existing on Madagascar today (carnivorans, primates, rodents and lipotyphlan insectivores). (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Yoder, et al., 2003)
A multigene analysis was used to determine if Malagasy carnivorans are all descendents of a single African ancestor: the product of a single colonization of the island. Results provide support for this single colonization theory. Also supported is that this single common ancestor was of herpestid form. However, there are two Malagasy felids residing within the herpestid clade. Malagasy carnivores could be of a feliform lineage, which can be classed with the viverrids, but they do not belong to a monophyletic Viverridae, and some subsets of Malagasy taxa are not classed within Herpestidae or Felidae. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Yoder, et al., 2003)
The difficulty in comparing G. fasciata with other herpestids is that even though traditional family affiliations are given, they do not reflect phylogenetic relationships. DNA comparative analyses can help determine whether the broad-striped mongooses can be compared to other herpestids. More information is needed on these mongooses to do comparisons. (Goodman and Benstead, 2003; Yoder, et al., 2003)
Michele Burrell (author), University of Alaska Fairbanks, Link Olson (editor, instructor), University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
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.
an animal that mainly eats meat
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
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
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.
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.
Dollar, L. 2000. "Galidictis fasciata. In: IUCN 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species." (On-line). Accessed November 18, 2004 at http://www.redlist.org/search/details.php?species=8833.
Garbutt, N. 1999. Mammals of Madagascar. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Goodman, S. 1996. The Carnivores of the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale d'Andringitra, Madagascar. Fieldiana: Zoology, No. 85: 289-292.
Goodman, S., M. Pidgeon. 1998. Carnivora of the Réserve Naturelle Intérgrale d'Andohahela, Madagascar. Fieldiana: Zoology, No. 94: 259-268.
Goodman, S., J. Benstead. 2003. The Natural History of Madagascar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Ray, J., M. Sunquist. 2001. Trophic relations in a community of African rainforest carnivores. Oecologia, 127: 395-408.
Yoder, A., M. Burns, S. Zehr, T. Delefosse, G. Veron, S. Goodman, J. Flynn. 2003. Single origin of Malagasy Carnivora from an African ancestor. Nature, 421 (6924): 734-737.