Microtus guentheri (Danford & Alston, 1880)

Amr, Zuhair S., Abu, Mohammad A., Qumsiyeh, Mazin & Eid, Ehab, 2018, Systematics, distribution and ecological analysis of rodents in Jordan, Zootaxa 4397 (1), pp. 1-94: 21-22

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Microtus guentheri (Danford & Alston, 1880)


Microtus guentheri (Danford & Alston, 1880) 

Common name: Levant vole.

Diagnosis: Fur color of dorsum reddish brown, grayish ventrally, weak line of demarcation. Ears and tail are very short ( Figure 21 View Figure ). Hind feet with five tubercles on soles. Soles of hind feet densely haired posteriorly. Tail less than one third of head body length. Four pairs of mammae. Third upper molar with three re-entering folds ( Figure 22 View Figure ).

Localities: Previous records. ‘Ibbīn ( Amr & Disi, 1988); Aş Şarīḩ (Rifai et al., 1998). Materials extracted from owl pellets. Marj Al Hammam (Obuch per. com.), ‘ Ammān National park (Obuch per. com.), Wādī Zarqā Ma’in (Pokines per. com.). New records. Ajlūn Forest Reserve ( Figure 23 View Figure ).

Habitat: The Levant vole is restricted to the Mediterranean biome. Some colonies were found in the transitional areas between Irbid and Al Mafraq. This is a colonial species where colonies may exceed 40 burrow systems per 1000 m 2. It shares burrows with the gray hamster ( Cricetulus migratorius  ) and Tristram’s jird ( Meriones tristrami  ). The barn owl ( Tyto alba  ) feeds readily on the Levant vole (Dor, 1947; Rifai et al., 1998).

Biology: Voles have enormous reproductive abilities. Gestation period lasts for 21 days, and females give birth to up to 10 new born. Each generation may produce 6 to 7 litters per year (Personal observations). Its populations may increase suddenly inflicting severe damage to crops. In 1992, northern Jordan was plagued with a population explosion of the Levant Vole. This was manifested in severe damage of wheat fields, all summer crops (squash, watermelon, etc.) and destruction of stems of newly planted fruit trees. In the following year, the populations of this vole ceased and are now under control. The ecology and biology of Microtus guentheri  were studied in Turkey (Çolak et al., 1998). Burrows were abundant at the edges of fields, burrow systems were shallow with severalopenings with no food chambers. In captivity, females produced seven litters with an average litter size of 5.5 between September and June (Çolak et al., 1998).

Remarks: Harrison & Bates (1991) continued to unite guentheri  with M. socialis  . Morphological and geographic definition of the species has been unclear due partly to substantial geographic variation and partly to its confusion with M. irani (Kock & Nader, 1983)  .Karyotype for this species from Turkey was found to be 2n=54, NFa=68 and NF: 70. The autosomes consist of 52 acrocentric and 2 metacentric pairs of chromosomes (Çolak et al., 1997).