Ring-tailed vontsira

The ring-tailed vontsira, locally still known as the ring-tailed mongoose (Galidia elegans) is a euplerid in the subfamily Galidiinae, a carnivoran native to Madagascar.[2]

Ring-tailed vontsira
Ring-tailed vontsira (Galidia elegans)
Montagne d'Ambre National Park
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Eupleridae
Genus: Galidia
I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1837
G. elegans
Binomial name
Galidia elegans
Galidia elegans range map
Ring-tailed vontsira range
Ring-tailed vontsira (Galidia elegans) 2
Galidie elegante skull
Skull and dentition, as illustrated in Gervais' Histoire naturelle des mammifères

Classification and etymology

There is much disagreement about the placement of Madagascar's carnivores, including the ring-tailed vontsira, within the phylogenetic tree. A 2003 study reported evidence that the Malagasy Carnivora evolved from a single herpestid ancestor.[3]

A monotypic genus, Galidia literally means "little weasel", being a diminutive form of galē (γαλῆ, "weasel" in ancient Greek).[4] Its local common name is vontsira mena, ‘red vontsira’ in Malagasy.[5]


The ring-tailed vontsira is relatively small but is the largest member of the subfamily Galidiinae. It is usually 32 to 38 cm (12.5 to 15 in) long and weighs only 700 to 900 g (25 to 32 oz). Its body is long and slender, and the rounded head has a pointed snout. The body is a dark red color and the feet are black. As the name implies, its bushy tail is covered with black and red rings and is similar to the red panda.

Ring-tailed vontsira are very agile, and good climbers. They are quite playful and are active during the day. Their habitat consists of humid forests. Their diet is mostly of small mammals, invertebrates, fish, reptiles and eggs, but they occasionally eat insects and fruit.

The population of ring-tailed vontsira has decreased by 20% during the period 1989-1999 due to habitat loss.[6] Another problem is competition with the small Indian civet (Viverricula indica).


  1. ^ Hawkins, A.F.A. (2008). "Galidia elegans". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  2. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  3. ^ Yoder, Anne D.; Burns, Melissa M.; Zehr, Sarah; Delefosse, Thomas; Veron, Geraldine; Goodman, Steven M.; Flynn, John J. "Single origin of Malagasy Carnivora from an African ancestor". Nature. 421 (6924): 734–737. doi:10.1038/nature01303.
  4. ^ Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary
  5. ^ Blench, Roger and Martin Walsh, Faunal names in Malagasy: their etymologies and implications for the prehistory of the East African coast (2009)
  6. ^ Nick, Garbutt (2007-01-01). Mammals of Madagascar : a complete guide. Yale University Press. ISBN 030012550X. OCLC 154689042.

External links

List of mammal genera

There are currently 1258 genera, 156 families, 28 orders, and around 5937 recognized living species of mammal. Mammalian taxonomy is in constant flux as many new species are described and recategorized within their respective genera and families. The taxonomy represented here is a compilation of the most logical and up-to-date information on mammalian taxonomy from many sources, the main ones being the HMW series and the Mammals Species of the World by Wilson and Reeder.

Extant Carnivora species

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