A mesocarnivore is an animal whose diet consists of 50–70% meat with the balance consisting of non-animal foods which may include fungi, fruits, and other plant material. Mesocarnivores are seen today among the Canidae (coyotes, foxes), Viverridae (civets), Mustelidae (martens, tayra), Procyonidae (ringtail, raccoon), Mephitidae (skunks), and Herpestidae (some mongooses). The Red Fox is also the most common of the mesocarnivores in Europe and has a high population density in the areas they reside . According to PLOS one, the Red fox Vulpes vulpes is hunted in Liberia as a way to hopefully control the predator’s population .
In North America, though some mesocarnivores, such as otters, lynx, or marten, are in danger of being over hunted for their pelts . This has led to efforts to help protect and conserve the mesocarnivores in the area which have been largely successful thus far .
There are a lot more mesocarnivores than larger species of carnivores. The American Institute of biological sciences states that it is due to the fact that there are smaller and therefore more abundant, but also because there are far more species of mesocarnivores . This diversity allows them to thrive in far more places than larger carnivores are able to. The population of these smaller carnivores also increases when the presence of a larger carnivore decline. This is known as the mesocarnivore release. According to the National Park Service, “Mesocarnivore release is defined as the expansion in range and/or abundance of a smaller predator following the reduction or removal of a larger predator” . One impact of this is that these mesocarnivores can act as scavengers cleaning up dead animal carcasses discarded by humans in urban areas .
Mesocarnivore cheek teeth are heterodont and their different shapes reflect distinct functions. Incisors and canines are used to apprehend food and kill prey, pointed premolars pierce and hold prey, and molars are involved in both slicing and crushing functions. The slicing function of the molars is produced by occlusion between the carnassials, the lower first molar, and the upper fourth premolar.
Mesocarnivores are first represented by the Miacidae. They are best represented by Prohesperocyon, with three incisors, one canine tooth, four premolars above. The jaw has three molars below, and two molars above on each side.
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