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Kapo

Before the people arriving to Hawaii mammals of this archipelago were presented only by bats and seals. In common with people new animals appeared at the islands, and among them there was a rat – one of the first ground mammals appeared in Hawaii. Their occurrence has resulted in disappearance of significant number of bird species existed at Hawaiian archipelago. Despite of human efforts directed to extermination of these animals, rats have not died out on Hawaii, and managed go easily through the period of global ecological crisis. After stabilization of climate various

species of rats differing from each other in ecology and way of life had evolved on Hawaii. The largest descendant of introduced rats is kapo, animal similar to South American rodents agouti and paca, known in human epoch. Kapo is very large species of rodents: the adult animal weighs about 5 kgs at body length about 40 cm. In its constitution kapo resembles a pig – this animal has short and muscled body, large head with narrow mobile muzzle and long whiskers, rather long legs and short thin tail. Colouring of this animal helps this rodent to hide in vegetation of underbrush: primary colour of kapo wool is grey, along back some faltering black strips stretch, and the top part of head is black. This rodent has rather large eyes. Above kapo’s eyes there are two big white spots helping this animal to distinguish congeners. Auricles of kapo are large, rounded and rather wide – they serve for body cooling in hot climate. From the outside edges of kapo’s auricles are covered with white wool that permits the animals to notice each other in shady underbrush. This species of rodents is almost exclusively vegetarian though it does not miss an opportunity to catch large insect, crab or snail. Its basic food includes seeds, roots of grassy plants and green. Kapo moves on ground on straightened legs. It can run very quickly, suddenly changing direction of run for protection against enemies. This animal is heavy enough, and it is not able to climb on trees. If the animal can not escape from the enemy, it protects itself, putting deep lacerations by incisors. Kapo is especially active in twilight and in early morning, and prefers to hide in various shelters in the afternoon. In middle of night kapo also has a rest within several hours. These animals dig short holes with a characteristic bend: the beginning of hole is almost horizontal, then it makes a sharp bend downwards, and proceeds horizontally or slightly inclined upwards. It is very difficult to dig out such hole, and it serves as good shelter for animal. Kapos make “stores” of seeds in forest, digging under roots of trees small holes and filling them with gathered seeds. They especially frequently reserve large seeds of palm trees and leguminous plants. The part of stocks will be eaten, but not completely – kapos frequently do not pull out all seeds from “store”, or forget the stock at all if find enough food. And then through any time in forest whole bunches of sprouts of various plants appear. Similarly to South American rodents, Hawaiian kapos carry seeds of palms and other trees with large and heavy seeds. Hence there is their name: Kapo is a god of fertility at ancient Hawaiians. Kapos live in pairs or in small groups: pair of adult animals and their posterity. Each pair has the certain territory where the shelter is arranged, but is fed in the distance from it. Inhabited holes of kapo are made nearby one from another, and individuals of different pairs communicate with each other with the help of sounds and movements of body. The pair is formed for some years, and brings posterity two times per one year. In litter at kapo there are about five naked blind cubs. Within two months of life they acquire wool, grow considerably and become more mobile. At them eyes open, they start to get out of a hole and to learn world around. In the beginning of the third month of life young kapos start to lead the same way of life as adult individuals, and completely pass to food of adult animals. At the age of 20 months young animals reach the size of adults and can give posterity. Life expectancy of kapo rarely exceeds five years.

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