Moulting patterns inClethrionomys gapperi
- Cite this article as:
- Sare, D.T.J., Millar, J.S. & Longstaffe, F.J. Acta Theriol (2005) 50: 561. doi:10.1007/BF03192649
Small northern mammals undergo regular developmental and seasonal moults. However, the moulting patterns of many small mammals are not well known. Development and subsequent moulting of the pelage was documented in adult red-backed volesClethrionomys gapperi Vigors, 1830 and their offspring in relation to age, weight, and sex. Red-backed voles exhibited 4 developmental pelages (nestling, juveniles, subadult, and adult) through diffuse, rapid hair growth. Rapid growth was associated with early moulting at the nestling, juveniles and adult stages. However, a trade-off between moulting and growth existed at the subadult stage such that delayed moulting was associated with rapid growth. Adult voles completed a unique moult progression with highly variable timing. Male and femaleC. gapperi showed no differences in pattern or locations of moulting. Variation in the number and timing of moults in small mammals may reflect differences in life-history strategies and highlights the need for a consistent mammalian pelages and moults nomenclature.