Friday, March 19, 2010
Feel the beat
While I was with the mongooses today, we came across a pair of short-snouted elephant shrews (Elephantulus brachyrhynchus).
Elephant shrews are diurnal (ah, I love African mammals) and they live as territorial, monogamous pairs. Apart from the usual squeaks and odorous gland secretions, they communicate using foot-drumming. They don't just stamp and vibrate their hind paws as an alarm signal (as, for example, with rabbits or phascogales), elephant shrews have incorporated drumming into their social interactions and aggressive displays too. Each species (and there are about 17) has its own unique pattern of drumming, with bouts of stomping varying consistently in length, frequency and duration. So if you're an elephant shrew expert, you can identify a species from its sense of rhythm!
This photo of a short-snouted elephant shrew was taken by Martine van Rooyen and borrowed from here.