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Desmans in captivity

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Onychorhynchus coronatus, 25 Jun 2021.

  1. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious, does anyone know what the history of the keeping of desmans (of either Desmanini species) has been in captivity / zoos ?

    What if any have been the major challenges to the effective husbandry of these little mammals in captivity ?

    Are these just another species of small mammal that due to cryptic behaviour, complex husbandry needs and / or low survivorship have not been kept regularly by zoos ?

    Look forward to your replies and learning more, thanks !
     
    Last edited: 25 Jun 2021
  2. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Well definitely tough in some way, as only Jardine des Plantes has kept Pyrenean and 3 facilities in Russia have kept Russian. None current.
    My hunch would be the need for clean fast water combined with insectivorous diet and nocturnal habits.
     
  3. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your comment @Great Argus !

    Do you know when Jardin des Plantes kept desmans ?

    For some reason I am guessing that this would have been during the 19th or early 20th centuries and purely for scientific curiosity.

    Yes, definitely not a display species but speaking purely on its nocturnal behaviour it could potentially be kept in a nocturnal house in a semi aquatic exhibit as the Australian water rat is perhaps ?

    I agree, not knowing much about desmans my hunch would be that the insectivorous diet and metabolism of these animals ( though I could just be thinking this because of the resemblance to shrews) would make it difficult to accomodate this species in captivity.
     
  4. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    I do not, Zootierliste does not have dates available.

    Probably, but I doubt the public would be interested in an "aquatic shrew-rat". And as stated diet and other needs is still an issue.
     
  5. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    The book "Longevity of Mammals in Captivity; from the Living Collections of the World” (Richard Weigl; 2005) lists two captive desmans.

    (1) A female Russian desman that lived at Leningrad Zoo from 6th September 1991 until its death on 9th September 1992

    (2) A male Pyrenean desman (sub-species rufulus) which was captured 13th August 1968 and was kept in the Koenig Museum Bonn from 3rd December 1968 until its death on12th April 1970.
     
  6. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I mean the lack of any public interest goes without saying, it would be just another "rat" to your average Joe I imagine.
     
  7. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that @Tim May ! Much appreciated!

    From a quick google search the reported lifespan of the Pyrenean desman is 3.5 years which sounds about right for a small mammal.

    Given that the individuals kept at Leningrad and Bonn would have likely already have been adult specimens when captured the short lifespan recorded probably isn't too suprising.
     
  8. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member 15+ year member

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    In Soviet Union, for some time, there existed a breeding centre aiming to breed Russian Desmans for their fur. I don't know any more.
     
  9. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    See the PDF below:-

    https://www.researchgate.net/public...oschata_Talpidae_at_the_edge_of_disappearance

    What follows, in italics, is an extract from this PDF about attempts to breed Russian desman in captivity.

    "The creation of a protected desman population in captivity is one of the most important measures for species conservation. Attempts of breeding desman in captivity were undertaken repeatedly, for example, in the Moscow Zoo (Skrebitsky, 1945; Romanov, 1989). A special vivarium was built in the Khoper Reserve to breed desmans, where several generations of researchers have worked on (Krasovsky, 1954; Chichikina, 1983; Karpov,1992). Krasovsky (1954) has even received one desman brood in captivity. However, it was not possible to repeat the success (according to our information,the pregnant female was caught from nature; the animals have not mated in captivity)."
     
  10. DesertRhino150

    DesertRhino150 Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    I think that the organisation ADEFFA are still attempting to breed the Pyrenean desman in captivity at their centre in Camadoca, Catalonia. From what I can gather, the breeding area (an air-conditioned building with remote surveillance cameras) was constructed in 2016. There have been several desmans kept there; apparently, ADEFFA is the only place where multiple individuals have been held simultaneously.

    The ADEFFA centre seems to have all sorts of breeding programmes for freshwater species - as well as the desman, they also breed European mink, freshwater mussels, white-clawed crayfish, a Pyrenean bullhead Cottus hispaniolensis and splendid cruiser dragonflies.

    More details on the programme can be found here (from the homepage, click on 'Projects' and then go down to the link titled 'Almesquera' and click on that to reach the desman page):
    Google Translate

    A picture of the building and part of the enclosure can be seen here:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdpd6k_lfT3/
     
  11. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Are you sure that it was desmans being bred by the Soviets ?

    I mean I guess their fur must be waterproof and therefore of some use for clothing or whatever but it is such a tiny animal....

    I think you would need an enormous amount of desman to make a single coat or whatever and it just doesn't seem as if it would be worth the effort.

    Thanks for sharing @Tim May !

    I'm glad to see that there has been at least an effort to try to conserve the species ex-situ but its a shame that breeding was never successful.
     
  12. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing @DesertRhino150 !

    Very interesting, indeed and I'll definitely check this out and have a read.

    I knew that there are several conservation NGO's working with the species in the Iberian penninsula and in France ( ?) but I wasn't aware that it was actively being held by a captive breeding center.

    From what you've written I think this centre probably represents the best chance there for breeding the Pyrenean species in captivity.
     
  13. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Same could be said for chinchillas; if the fur is desirable size of the animal doesn't seem to be a stopping factor.
     
  14. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I think there are quite a few differences as the chinchilla is easily kept / requires a very simple set-up.

    Moreover is easily bred and farmed and is quite a bit larger in size than a desman.
     
    Last edited: 25 Jun 2021
  15. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Judging by the photo in the link of the set-up for the desman it looks great !

    Looking on the website it doesn't appear that they are currently working with the desman though so I'm wondering whether they have discontinued this project.
     
    Last edited: 25 Jun 2021
  16. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Yes, but the point was size in remark to your comment on desman fur use. I was not comparing chinchilla husbandry to desmans in any way, I am familiar with chinchilla husbandry. Chinchilla are larger yes, but not enormously so.
     
  17. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough.

    Out of curiosity, I wonder if @Jurek7 could find a citation or more information about desman fur farming ?
     
  18. DesertRhino150

    DesertRhino150 Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    CMTM, Swampy and JurassicMax like this.