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Crazy Alphabet Challenge (with a twist): the letter Y: Yapok or Yapock

source of the photo above:

The nasty looking critter above is a water opossum (in French a « sarigue » ) or « yapok » or « yapock ». The specific term « yapok » is the common name of « Chironectes minimus » which is a marsupial mammal of the family Didelphidae. Notably this specific marsupial has a pouch both on the female and the male just like a kangaroo and the wombat of Australia. But it is found in South America and Mexico as seen on the map below.

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The back paws of the « yapok » are palmed and the fingers of the front paws have very small suction cups at the end of them. These are excellent for grabbing prey and bringing them to shore to eat. You can see a bit more of the small suction cups in the next picture below.

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The combination of palmed hindfeet, long tail and a water repellent fur makes the « yapok » a superbly equipped semi aquatic animal. The water opossum lives in burrowed dens on the shores of riverbanks from which he and she emerges after dusk to feed on fish, frogs, crabs or other small crustaceans that they bring on the bank to consume.

The webbed hindfeet, along with the long tail serve as propellers by moving and stroking alternatively in symmetrical patterns.

The fur of this unique animal is grey and black. The crown and the muzzle are all black as you can see in the photos. The « yapock » is also equipped with whiskers and tufts above both eyes which serve as sensory receptors just like the cat.

As I have said before, both the female and males have a pouch. The female’s pouch which opens to the rear serves as a den for her young ones. She can use her very strong muscle to close the pouch and make it water tight when she swim with her young pups are inside it and nursing. The little ones are then kept very dry…

The male’s pouch is used for a completely different reason. The male inserts his genitalia in the pouch when swimming. This prevents injury to his precious jewels, helps him to keep a very straight and narrow streamline and also prevents from tangling in weeds or whatever there is underwater. Please do not ask me how he manages to do this as I can only research so much…

The mating season for the water « yapok » is in December. 12 to 14 days later the females gives birth to 1 to 5 young. By about the 40th day, these young pups are dangling outside the pouch but are still attached to the nipples. On approximately the 48th day, they become detached from the nipples but remain near their mother until ready to go on their very own.

Well that is it for the letter Y. Next will be the last letter of the alphabet, the letter Z.

BTW, the word « yapok » or « yapock » probably comes from the name of the river Oyapock located in French Guinea.


What do you think?

12 points

Written by HistoryGal

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    • Yes Vidocka I agree they do look a bit like rats but with palmed hindfeet and front suction cups feet and pouches. But their face are almost like rat faces… Still a big thank you for your visit and comment and up vote despite your dislike of this critter….

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