Russian desman (lat. Desmana moschata) is a mammal that belongs to the order of insectivores. These animals are counted as molehills, but they are referred to the separate subfamily Desmaninae.
At present, the natural habitat of Russian desman’s is considered to be the territory bounded by such rivers as the Don, Dnieper, Ural, Volga. Sometimes these amazing animals can be found on the territory of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Lithuania.
Muskrat is one of the largest animals in the northern part of Eurasia, which feeds on insects. The body weight of an adult individual can reach 380-520 grams, the length of the body is 18-22 cm, and there is also a long tail 17-21 cm. The desman has a dense build. The paws of this mammal are small, and in order for it to feel well in the water, the fingers of the extremities are interconnected by swimming membranes. These animals have strong, very thick fur. In order for it not to get wet in water, a lubricant in the form of oily musk is released from the skin gland. The skin gland itself, which is responsible for the production of lubricant, is located at the base of the desman’s tail. A mammal has teeth, there are only 44, they have very weak eyesight, which is compensated by a well-developed sense of touch and smell.
The most favorite habitats of muskrats are calm floodplain waters, in which swamp vegetation grows in sufficient quantity. Almost all the time the muskrat lives in its hole, the exit of which is necessarily under water. Such bunks can have a different size, which is directly dependent on the steepness of the coast. The muskrat always tries to build the main place of dwelling under the roots of stumps, trees or bushes. Such an arrangement, firstly, helps to conceal its location somewhat, and secondly, protects the animal from possible landslides.
Desmans need a lot of food. An adult mammal in one day is able to eat a quantity of food equal to its weight. In the summer, the desman uses mostly only the bottom living creatures, which include the iris beetle larvae, leeches, gastropods, larvae of caddis, etc. During the winter months, a variety of plant foods and even small fish are added to this feed.
Desmans arrange for themselves not only a residential hole, but also spare holes. The distance between such holes is about 25-30 meters. To get from one hole to another (nearby), an animal needs only one minute. Spare holes serve as a resting place and eating prey. In order not to get entangled in the water and always correctly press out their desman holes, they lay special trenches along the bottom through which they move. By the way, such trenches not only serve as a guideline, they often come across mining that moves along the bottom.
If it is possible to coexist with beavers, the desman will do just that. This is useful not only for desman, but also for beavers. Russian desmans can use beaver buildings as protective shelters and, moreover, they may not be afraid of the nets placed in reservoirs by people, because a person knows that you shouldn’t do this next to a beaver’s house – an animal will just ruin them. At the same time, desmans help beavers by eating gastropods, which are the carrier of the causative agent of the beavers’ disease of the farm.
Russian desman remained very little, so now they are protected. This animal was listed in the Red Book of Russia.