TAXONOMY

Solenodon paradoxus Brandt, 1833, Dominican Republic.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Haitian solenodon; French: Solénodonte d’Haiti; German: Dominikanischer Schlitzrüssler, Haiti-Schlitzrüssler; Haitian French: Nez longue; Spanish: Solenodonte haitiano.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Individuals resemble very massive shrews. An grownup weighs up to 2.Four lb (1,100 g). Its mixed head and physique size ranges 11–12 in (28–32.5 cm), and the tail size is 7–10 in (17.5–25.5 cm). There are 5 fingers and 5 toes, for, respectively, the forepaws and hindpaws, and all digits are geared up with massive, sturdy claws, though the forelimbs are extra powerfully muscled than the hindlimbs, and the forepaws are greater. The underfur is brief and dense, overlain by a coarser secondary coat. The brow is sparsely lined with hair, whereas the ears, legs, snout, and scaly, rat-like tail are practically hairless. The snout sprouts lengthy vibrissae, or sensory whiskers, alongside its size. Fur colour ranges from brown by means of reddish brown to yellowish brown on the higher, dorsal physique, with a lighter shade on the underside. A light-weight-colored, roughly rectangular spot within the fur of the nape modifications barely in measurement and form all through the animal’s life. A signature attribute of Solenodon paradoxusis the os proboscis, a small, spherical bone, situated on the tip of the podium (bones of the nasal area), and which holds the proximal finish of the cartilaginous assist for the lengthy snout. The os proboscis articulates with the podium in a ball-and-socket joint, a most uncommon function among the many vertebrates. The Cuban solenodon lacks this function.

DISTRIBUTION

The Caribbean island of Hispaniola; within the Dominican Republic, in a number of forested areas; in Haiti, solely within the excessive southwest.

HABITAT

Montane tropical rainforest. The animals could typically settle in scrub, or close to plantations.

BEHAVIOR

The Hispaniolan solenodon forages nocturnally, hiding and sleeping throughout the day in areas between rocks, in hole timber, or in networks of burrows that the animals excavate. Usually, a number of people relaxation collectively in a hole or burrow. Captive Hispaniolan solenodons will sleep piled in heaps inside their shelters. Wild male adults, and feminine adults with out younger, are solitary when foraging, even when they share burrow area. Field researchers have usually discovered collections of snail shells within the burrows of untamed Hispaniolan solenodons. Captive solenodons have been noticed accumulating equally small, exhausting objects, comparable to coarse chunks of peat moss and beechnut husks, and dragging them into their sleeping enclosures. Captive solenodons present nesting exercise, lining their sleeping shelters with hay, dried leaves, peat moss, and related supplies, pushing it into little heaps with their forepaws, then dragging it, backwards, with forepaws or jaws, into the nest enclosure. A pregnant feminine will put together a litter nest. Hispaniolan solenodons, within the wild or in captivity, produce a wide range of vocalizations: wheezing and snuffling like hedgehogs, grunting like pigs, squeaking like guinea pigs, twittering like mice, and whimpering like younger kittens. An excited or alarmed solenodon will hold forth with penetrating shrieks. Mothers and their younger, or mates, make bird-like contact calls, whereas courting people make repeated “piff” noises. Hispaniolan solenodons seem to echolocate. An particular person will produce a collection of high-pitched clicks when testing a brand new space or encountering a wierd animal. Several species of shrew (Soricidae) and tenrecs use echolocation. Sudden excessive, shrill, or sharp noises will panic the animals and ship them fleeing. If threatened by a rival solenodon or one other species, the solenodon will first take an upright, defensive posture and warn its opponent with a loud “chirp.” If fleeing the opponent is the chosen choice, a Hispaniolan solenodon first runs in an erratic sample, then crouches immobile and hides its head. This conduct could have given it a survival edge towards predators, significantly birds of prey, earlier than human settlement of Cuba and Hispaniola, however these traits work towards it when coping with launched predators like canine, cats, and mongooses.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Hispaniolan solenodons are omnivorous, generalist feeders with some emphasis on bugs and spiders, whereas various their fare with worms, snails, small reptiles, roots, fruits, and leaves. A Hispaniolan soledonon forages alongside an erratic, winding course, most likely in accordance with a food-search sample, whereas utilizing its versatile snout to root in dust and poke into leaf litter, utilizing odor and tactile senses to discover earthworms, arthropods, or land snails, digging them out of the soil or snagging them in leaf litter. A solenodon will rigorously clear the dust from a snagged earthworm with its entrance paws earlier than consuming it. The animal additionally makes use of its highly effective forelimbs and claws to tear into mushy, rotten wooden looking for resident edibles. Hispaniolan solenodons drink water by lapping it up with their tongues, whereas holding the snout bent upward, then swallow it whereas throwing their heads again.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Mating conduct is widespread to insectivores, presumably polygamous or promiscuous. In captivity, a male launched right into a feminine’s cage explores, and scent-marks by rubbing his anogenital space over objects and spots within the cage, usually in areas already scent-marked by the feminine. As the 2 transfer nearer to one another, they repeatedly make reassuring “piff” noises. Physical contact begins with nose-to-nose touching, adopted by the 2 animals sniffing totally different elements of one another’s physique. As the male mounts, he secures his and the feminine’s place by a neck grip on the feminine. Both ####es of the Hispaniolan solenodon exude a greenish, oily fluid from scent glands within the armpits and groin. However, the quantity of a feminine’s excretions could point out the extent of arousal, whereas the male that may mate at any time excretes an identical fluid at a continuing price. A feminine provides beginning to a litter of 1, two, and even three younger in a nesting burrow, and she will beginning two litters inside a 12 months. There is not any set mating season. A mature Hispaniolan solenodon feminine’s estrous lasts a few day, with intervals of 9 to 13 days between estrous intervals. The gestation interval is unknown. Individual younger weigh 1.4–1.9 oz (40-55 g) at beginning, and are blind and practically hairless, though they’ve grown an entire coat of fur by two weeks after beginning. The feminine has two teats, located close to the groin. Out of a litter of three, one will most likely die, because the mom can nurse solely two at a time. When seven weeks outdated, the nursing children accompany the mom outside in her foraging by hanging quick to her teats with their jaws, being dragged alongside wherever she goes. This conduct, generally known as “teat transport,” is well-known amongst rodent species, however among the many insectivores, identified solely in solenodons. The younger are weaned after 75 days, a very long time for insectivores, whereas the younger could typically stay with the mom whereas she births and raises subsequent litters. Males don't share in parenting.

CONSERVATION STATUS

The Hispaniolan solenodon is listed as Endangered by the IUCN. The species is beset by deforestation, killing by people who contemplate them pests, and by launched home cats, canine, and mongooses, towards which the animals have little protection. Hispaniolan solenodons typically nest and burrow close to plantations, the place the soil, made softer and extra pliable by farming, makes for simpler burrowing, whereas the plantations themselves are ample with bugs. Farmers kill solenodons, accusing them of attacking crops, when almost certainly the animals had been foraging for bugs within the fields, whereas the proximity to settled areas renders solenodons extra susceptible to hurt from people and launched animals. By 1907, the Hispaniolan solenodon had been written off as extinct, however a number of remoted populations have been rediscovered in Hispaniola. Of the 2 Hispaniolan nations, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, a 1996 survey discovered S. paradoxus in each international locations, though its survival isn’t possible in Haiti, which has been all however utterly deforested.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Negatively, solenodons are thought of solely minor nuisance once they disturb agricultural land. There are usually not a lot of them, and they aren't hunted for food. They are of no direct constructive significance to humanity, however extra abstractly, they're conservation symbols and residing research within the evolution of primitive placental mammals and in adaptive evolution on islands.