ZOO’S NEW INHABITANTS
The new inhabitants of Zoo Wrocław are two tots, representing a species quite common in the natural environment, but rare in zoological gardens. In Arabic its name means ‘guardian’. For locals it is also a synonym of dusk. At this time of the day these animals become active again and emerge from rock crevices. Our gundis, the animals in question, were born on January 25th in the pavilion "Sahara", where they can be viewed.
The common gundi (Ctenodactylus gundi) is a small rodent inhabiting the northern part of Africa, including Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, mainly on the southern slope of the Atlas Mountains. It likes rocky and arid terrains, it doesn’t burrow but lives in narrow rock cracks. Interestingly, it can flatten its body almost perfectly, to squeeze into every available gap.
Although gundis are considered a common species in their natural environment, the size of the population is unknown and difficult to estimate. The reasons for this are fluctuations in numbers depending on the weather (particularly humidity) and food availability. Gundis are busy little creatures, always on the move, what makes their observation difficult, too. Hence the decision to run a zoo-based conservation breeding program.
In Wroclaw, gundis live in the indoor enclosure of the “Sahara” pavilion, where their natural habitat have been recreated.
- They are extremely active and although you can easily see them, it's much harder to photograph them. Only 2-3 days after being born, they were already climbing rocks, even vertical ones. The Arabs often call them "earless rabbits" - says Monika Górska, gundis’ keeper. - They are very graceful animals, they do not cause trouble, and watching them is a pleasure. We used to have 9 individuals, now it is 11. They can be found only in 26 zoological gardens, with captive population of less than 150.
Gundi’s body reaches up to 20 cm in length and is covered with a very soft, yellowish coat (white on the abdomen). Gundis are somewhat similar to hamsters and cavies (prev. guinea pig). They have sharp claws and bristly hair- which they use for grooming - that grows between the toes of their hind limbs.
They like to bask very much and gladly cuddle together. The youngsters snuggle up not only to their own mothers, but also like to hide under other members of the group - adds Górska.
Interestingly, they do not drink, they only get water from food (the morning dew plays a significant role). They do not store food like some desert rodents. They are herbivorous (they eat leaves, stems, flowers and seeds).