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gymnure

gymnure

gymnure: see hedgehog.

Gymnures, also called Hairy Hedgehogs or Moon Rats, are mammals belonging to the subfamily Galericinae, in the family Erinaceidae and the order Erinaceomorpha. Although more closely related to moles, they look like very large rats.

Distribution and appearance

Gymnures inhabit moist jungle terrain in various locales of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Sumatra, China and the Malay Peninsula.

Although its closest relative is the hedgehog, full grown specimens more closely resemble large rats, or the North American Virginia Opossum, (Didelphis virginianis), with which it shares similar habits and ecological niches (an example of parallel evolution).

The gymnure's body plan is believed to resemble that of the earliest mammals, with a large toothy head about 1/3rd the length of the total body, a naked furless tail for balance and thermoregulatory purposes, and a plantigrade stance.

They also have an outstanding sense of smell, and tactile response in the snout region. The somewhat related star-nosed moles have noses so innervated that they can readily detect and discern microscopic texture features.

Way of life

Gymnures are primarily carnivorous. They are nocturnal or crepuscular: they come out to forage at twilight or in the night to search the forest floor, using smell to find the animals that they eat. Gymnures eat various arthropods, mice, small reptiles and amphibians, with occasional fruit and fungi.

Gymnures keep territories, and individuals are solitary except when breeding. Gymnures have a very strong scent, typically described as a rancid garlic or onion smell, which is produced by its territory-marking scent glands. Several creatures similar in form and niche, such as the opossum and solenodon smell similar to the gymnure.

Classification

This subfamily has alternately been called Echinosoricinae, Gymnurinae, and Hylomyinae. Some researchers prefer Hylomyinae because the specific relationships of the extinct genus Galerix to living erinaceids are uncertain. There are eight species in five genera:

References

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