The Russian Desman, Desmana moschata, is a mammal and a semi-aquatic species. The Desmanini tribe currently has only two surviving species under them, the Russian Desman and the Pyrenean Desman. Despite having quite a similarity with the rodent species of the Muskrat of North America, the Russian Desman is part of the mole family named Talpidae. Moles are always blind and only get their sensory inputs from the touch-sensitive Eimar's organs, which are present at the end of the long snout. This slow-moving, semi-aquatic, endangered mole, the Russian Desman is no different than the other members of the mole family of the genus Desmana.
The hind feet of this species of animals are webbed and the tail flattened laterally for the fulfillment of the Russian Desman swimming criteria, which makes them a mole of aquatic habitat. The tail of the species also has scent glands. These moles are also nocturnal and the group of this species is known to live in nests with unrelated individuals. This group of mammals usually inhabits only aquatic habitats and is largely a territorial group.
This group of species is often related to other rodents but is actually not a part of this family of rodents. Rodents such as agouti and water vole are actually non-related to the endangered species called Russian Desman. Read on to know the differences!
The Russian Desman is a species of moles that are now endangered.
The Russian Desman, Desmana moschata, falls under the class of Mammalia in the kingdom of Animalia.
In 2004, references from various articles estimated that there are under 35,000 of these species left. But in some parts of Russia, the numbers are said to be growing now.
The Russian Desman is endemic to Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and southwestern Russia. They are found on the basins of the Don, Ural, and Volga rivers. This endangered species is found on the banks of ponds and streams, where the animals make burrows.
The Pyrenean Desman, the other member of the group of moles, is found in Western Europe.
According to references, the population in Russia is somewhat getting better, but the conditions of Ukraine and Kazakhstan are the same and declining.
These species found always in a group, inhabits freshwater, slow-moving streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds. They are also found in river basins. Found usually in holes along lakes and river basins, they prefer water bodies with rich water-marsh vegetation, bushes, and primary forests along the water banks. Entrances for their burrows lead from their range of nests on the ground to below water.
The Russian Desman was found living in a small group of two to five moles. The social system and the communication techniques between the animals are said to be complex. These complex systems have not been studied much and the references are unavailable.
The Russian Desman appears to survive for only three years in the wild.
The gestation period of the species lasts for 40-50 days and a litter size of two to five young are born twice a year. The mating season is between summer and fall. Sexual maturity is reached at 12 months by the females.
At first, the Desmans were found in abundance in the world. In all the range of regions they were naturally found, the endangered Russian Desman was endemic to Russia and reproduced freely, growing in abundance, which was estimated to be around 70,000 in the 1970s. But now, the population of the species named Russian Desman, Desmana Moschata, is decreasing at a rapid pace, and the conservation status of these animals is kept at Endangered. The population of this species left is protected by law.
With many links to the muskrat species which are said to be related in a lot of ways and also appear similar to the Russian Desman, Desmana moschata, this species is said to be the largest moles present in the world. The endangered species has a long, grooved snout, which is flexible. They also have a scaly, flattened tail that is wide at the base. The body is cylindrical and is covered with thick, waterproof double fur. The external coat has stiff, long hairs and the soft undercoat has short, dense hairs. The waterproof fur of the animal is colored reddish-brown and the belly is gray-colored.
The tail is used as a paddle in the water. The hind feet are completely webbed while the front feet appear to be partially webbed to move around the water. Eyes are present, but they use sensory information from their environment with the help of the touch-sensitive organ located on the snout. It appears that these animals use their snouts to probe the bottom of their aquatic habitats in search of food.
They are quite a big mole species and are beautiful in their own right.
They usually use sounds for communication. More research on these creatures is unavailable, but they are said to live in an organized society.
The Russian Desman has a body length of 7.1-8.3 in (18-21 cm). The length of the tail ranges from 6.7-7.9 in (17-20 cm).
These animals only move when the water height changes and the speed is currently unknown. Commonly, moles are pretty quick and can dig 100-150 ft in a day.
The weight of the Russian Desman ranges from 0.88-1.14 lb (400-520 g).
The males and females are not given different names.
A baby of this species is called a young.
These omnivore mammals eat at least 72 types of invertebrates and almost 30 different plant species. Commonly, they are found feeding on fish, plants, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians, and insects.
They are not at all poisonous.
Due to their requirement of natural habitats and decreasing numbers, Russian Desmans are not considered pets. They are often, unfortunately, caught for fur trading.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
The Russian Desman are very territorial and these animals possess some glands in their tail which produce a musky smell to mark their territory.
The Russian Desman fur is rich and thick in nature, which made them a target for the fur trade. This killing and hunting of the species of the group of Desmans, made the Russian government declare this group a protected species. Loss of habitats, water pollution, and illegal fishing nets added to this endangered status of these mammals. These nets are so dangerous for these endangered species as the moles cannot even survive five minutes if trapped in one. The introduction of the non-native species of the Muskrats' family is also primarily responsible for the decline of the population, which was estimated to be only 35,000 in 2004.
Minks and Muskrats are really disastrous for Russian Desmans. They were introduced in the same habitats, where the Minks killed a lot of the moles and the Muskrats drove them away from their homes.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our porcupine fun facts and muskrat surprising facts pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Russian desman coloring pages.