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First record of crab-eating mongoose (Herpestes urva formosanus) in coastal forest and use of anvils during predation on land hermit crabs in Taiwan

Abstract

Crab-eating mongooses (Herpestes urva) are widely distributed across Southeast Asia. In Taiwan, the mongoose (H. urva formosanus, endemic subspecies) is a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act. Crab-eating mongooses have been observed near streams, riversides, agricultural lands, and shallow mountain areas. Additionally, as described in this short communication, by using a remote camera, we observed a small population of mongooses in the coastal forest in Kenting National Park in Taiwan. The mongooses in the coastal forest were observed eating land hermit crabs, which is the first-ever recorded observation of this behavior. Mongooses are known to consume crabs (Brachyura), insects, and some small reptiles. However, this article presents the first record case of mongooses using stone anvil to crack open land hermit crabs. From our observations and field records, we determined that mongooses use flat rocks as anvils and their front paws to tap hermit crabs’ shells repeatedly to break the shells and remove the hermit crabs. We also observed that the mongooses only ate the abdomens of large hermit crabs. Additional studies are necessary to determine why the mongooses migrated to the coastal forest and how they learned to open hermit crab shells. This behavior of mongooses might help them move into living in coastal forests.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Kenting National Park for supporting this research. We also thank Kenting Youth Activity Center for contributing to the conservation of land hermit crabs and effectively preserving the crabs’ habitats. Kenting Youth Activity Center provides an important habitat for several animals and protects them from anthropogenic effects despite its location near the famous tourist attraction of Kenting Street.

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Correspondence to Chia-Hsuan Hsu.

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Huang, SH., Hsu, CH. First record of crab-eating mongoose (Herpestes urva formosanus) in coastal forest and use of anvils during predation on land hermit crabs in Taiwan. acta ethol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10211-022-00392-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10211-022-00392-3

Keywords

  • Crab-eating mongoose
  • Herpestes urva
  • Coastal forest
  • Land hermit crabs
  • Taiwan