Nilgiri Marten

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Nilgiri Marten

The Nilgiri marten is identical to the martes flavigula, but the shape of the skull is broader and significantly different – it has a prominent frontal concavity.

It is unmistakable in the field; its pelage is deep brown from head to rump, with the forequarters almost reddish, with a bright throat varying from yellow to orange.

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The Nilgiri marten is deep brown from head to rump, with the forequarters almost reddish, with a bright throat ranging from yellow to orange.

It has a prominent front concavity and is broader than the yellow-throated marten.

Table of Contents

Geographic Range

Nilgiri martens (Martes gwatkinsii) is endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range of southern India, which is located within the eastern geographic range.

Habitat

Nilgiri martens are primarily found in the humid tropical rainforests of southern India at altitudes between 300 and 1200 m.

There have been records of sightings in coffee, cardamom, wattle plantations, swamps, grasslands, deciduous forests, and evergreen forests.

Physical Description

Nilgiri martens about 2.1 kg on average. Their body lengths vary from 55 to 65 cm, and their tail lengths range from 40 to 45 cm.

They have a high basal metabolic rate as a marten. They have a brown coat with a rather distinct yellow or orange throat patch. Nilgiri martens are similar in size and appearance to yellow-throated martens.

Nilgiri martens are characterized by their slightly larger size and the shape of their skulls. Nilgiri marten braincases are flattened above with a prominent frontal concavity.

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Reproduction

The reproductive habits of the Nilgiri marten have not been recorded. Many mustelids are polygynous, but yellow-throated martens are considered to be monogamous.

As Nilgiri martens close relatives, they are believed to share several biological and behavioural traits; thus, Nilgiri martens may also be monogamous.

The reproductive habits of Nilgiri martens have not been studied exclusively. However, similar reproductive behaviours can be believed to be close to related yellow-throated martens and other mustelids.

Most of the mustelids breed seasonally. Yellow-throated martens breed between February and March or between June and August; Nilgiri martens may follow a similar breeding schedule.

Some populations of Martens are undergoing delayed implantation. Usually, gestation lasts 30 to 65 days for mustelids. The gestation period of yellow-throated martens is between 220 and 290 days.

It is not clear if Nilgiri marten has a similarly long gestational period as yellow-throated martens. Generally, the mustelids are altruistic; they are born tiny and blind.

Details on the growth and development of Nilgiri martens has not been documented. Yellow-throated martens were estimated to have 2 to 6 kits per litter.

Lifespan/Longevity

The life of the Nilgiri martens is currently uncertain. However a similar relative, yellow-throated marten has been known to live in captivity for an average of 14 years. Other martens have been known to live in captivity for an average of 10 to 18.1 years.

Behaviour

Nilgiri martens are thought to be diurnal and mainly arboreal for hunting and foraging excursions. Nilgiri martens were considered to be social animals, just like yellow-throated martens.

Interaction and even hunting have been seen in groups. Nilgiri martens also prey on small mammals such as mouse deer.

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Home Range

Little is known about the Nilgiri Martens home range. However, martens also need any group of mammals to be one of the largest home ranges in areas per unit body weight.

Communication and Perception

Given the probable social nature of Nilgiri martens, they are likely to communicate both vocally and chemically, by fragrance marking, similar to other martens.

They are likely to use sight, smell, touch, and sound to interpret their environment, but little is currently known about their communication. Habits of Food

Food Habits

Martens are omnivorous. Nilgiri martens are partly frugivorous and insectivorous. They are believed to be good hunters and frequently kill and eat small mammals and birds.

There have even been reports of Nilgiri martens hunting chevrotains, monitor lizards, crows, Indian giant squirrels, and cicadas. They have also been known to consume nectar in the form of honey.

Predation

The martens of Nilgiri are partially frugivorous and insectivorous. They are good hunters and also kill and consume small mammals and birds. It has also been recorded that Nilgiri martens hunt chevrotains, monitor lizards, crows, Indian giant squirrels, and cicadas. They were also known to eat nectar in the form of honey.

Ecosystem Roles

Martens is omnivorous

The martens of Nilgiri are partially frugivorous and insectivorous. They good hunters and also kill and consume small mammals and birds.

It has also been recorded that Nilgiri martens hunt chevrotains, monitor lizards, crows, Indian giant squirrels, and cicadas. They were also known to eat nectar in the form of honey. Predation of

Martens of Nilgiri have no known natural predators.

However, as a small carnivore, it may be vulnerable to predation by any major predator in the region. Large predators in the western ghats of southern India include leopards, sloth bears, dholes and tigers. Roles of the ecosystem

Mustelids primarily influence their ecosystem through its effects on the prey population.

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Given their strong associations with structural complexity in forests, martens and fishers are often used as useful forest health barometers and have been used as ecological indicators, flagships and umbrella species in different parts of the world, especially in the United States, Canada and Scandinavia.

As a result, efforts to successfully conserve and manage martens and fishers have also been made.

Martens of Nilgiri has been confirmed to be hunted for human consumption. However, due to the unusual existence of the species, Nilgiri martens is unlikely to be an important food source.

It is also doubtful that the fur of the Nilgiri martens is of value, as the fur of its closest relatives, the yellow-throated martens, is known to be of little value. Economic Value for People: Negative

Nilgiri martens have been recorded to have invaded local beehives and have therefore been considered to be pests by local bee farmers.

The shortage of Nilgiri martens, however, leads researchers to believe that the effect on the local honey industry is limited.

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