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Ursivtta

Mass extinction of live creatures at the border of Holocene and Neocene had given few chances of survival to animals weighting more than 20 kgs. Predators dependent on abundance of large prey – cats, dogs, hyaenas and bears have especially suffered from it. But small predators like raccoons, weasels and civets have easily survived and have “privately divided” the planet: weasels and their descendants became main predators of temperate and cold areas of Earth, and civets were spreaded in tropical zone of Old World. Only in Africa and partly in America relic representatives of cats, descendants of small cat species compete with them. Holocene representatives of civet family by the constitution are analogues of primitive predators of early Cenozoic, therefore it is possible to assume, that they have the big evolutionary future. Among them there are ecological analogues of omnivorous bears and carnivorous cats, therefore it is possible to assume, that in the future they will occupy place of these animals. Ursine civet is the huge representative of civet family. This animal is similar to bear with long tail (prehistoric analogue of ursine civet is the huge fossil marten Perunium dwelt in Eurasia). Constitution of this animal is, however, more graceful, than at bear: neck is longer and more mobile, and muzzle is more extended. Adult animal weighs up to 250 - 300 kg (males are larger). Legs are almost plantigrade, with long non-retracting claws. Fur of animal is rich and rather long (the animal frequently meets in mountains, sometimes in summer rising up to zone of Alpine vegetation), chestnut-brown with mesh white pattern on neck and back. On tail there are some cross rings of white wool, the tail tip is black. With the help of tail position ursine civet expresses its mood at the meeting with neighbours. In the basis of tail there are repugnatorial glands which emit pleasant musk smell for territory marking. This animal is solitary one living in territory numbering some square kilometers in area and strictly protected from neighbours. Only female and cubs can live any time in group. The ursine civet is omnivorous species with deviation to predating. Teeth at it are wide, knobby and dulled – vegetative food makes about 40 % of diet. Among plants ursine civet prefers fruits of different palms rich in oil. Also it digs out by claws roots of huge grasses of family Apiaceae growing on mountain slopes, and tubers of various wood grasses. On river banks ursine civet eats roots of reed mace and other marsh plants. The food of animal origin includes larvae of various insects, frogs and lizards, eggs and nestlings of ground birds. If there is an opportunity, ursine civet willingly eats carrion and attacks cubs of ground animals. Due to claws this animal can climb trees, ravaging bird nests. Ursine civet is mainly day time animal. It spends night in shelter which it is usually a little number in its territory. From time to time animal moves to other shelter, giving to ants and the other insects the right to eat staying in lair litter larvae of fleas and ticks. For disposal of parasites animal willingly bathes in river and wallows on odorous grasses, especially on greenery of plants of Apiaceae family (having eaten its roots). Borders of territories can be broken only in season of pairing. Usually on border of possession of several animals there is special remarkable place like alone growing tree or large stone. Animals make here original “message board”, marking it with odorous secretions. When the male notices on smell, that the female is ready to pairing, he puts the mark atop of mark of this female, and waits nearby from “message board” driving away other males. Also he puts marks in territory of chosen female: peels bark from tree and marks this place with odorous secretions, declaring about its presence. When the female comes to “message board” and sniffs at it, she becomes acquainted “in absentia” with the male, and if the male is pleasant to her, some time it allows him to remain nearby for pairing. When the female feels approach of pregnancy, it banishes out the male, sometimes should win anew his own territory if on it in his absence the neighbour had lodged. Pregnancy lasts about five months. Shortly before cub birth the female builds lair – she digs out hole under tree roots or finds ready cave in mountains. She drags moss and branches for litter, and carefully hides traces of her presence near to chosen refuge. In pack there are usually two cubs though sometimes there are triplets, and young females bear only one cub. Young growth is born blind and with closed ears, covered by short wool. Colouring of newborn cubs is spotty: chestnut stains on red or straw-coloured background (characteristic colouring of Asian civet (Viverricula), an ancestor of the ursine civet, was spotty), later cubs darken. At ten-day age at them eyes and ears open, and month-aged cubs already can play near lair entrance. At bi-monthly age cubs leave shelter, and female teaches them in ways of food getting. Young growth stay with mother up to eight-monthly age then starts to live independently. Sexual maturity comes at them at three-year age, and life expectancy can reach up to 30 - 35 years.

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