Addo Flightless Dung Beetle

(Circellium bacchus)


Addo Flightless Dung Beetle IUCN NOT EVALUATED (NE)


Facts about this animal

Dung beetles feed on the droppings of large mammaals. They either eat fresh dung at the spot where it dropped or roll it into a ball and bury it to eat later.

The female uses the dung also for building a brood ball. She moves it away using her powerful hind legs, while the male follows along behind. At a suitable spot, she will bury the ball, with the male on top. They mate under the ground and a single egg is laid within the ball. The female stays with the ball until the juvenile stage of her young is complete. The larva feeds on the dung ball from the inside and spends 3-4 months as a pupa before it emerges as an immature adult.

The large, 22 to 47 mm long, Addo Flightless Dung Beetles have only vestigial wings, which can no longer support them in flight. Hence the beetles must walk from dung pad to dung pad for feeding and collecting the dung they need for building the dung balls. The beetles prefer the coarse dung of elephant, rhino and buffalo.

Previously the species was widely distributed in the old Cape Province and extended north into the Transvaal. As elephants, rhinos and bufflaos became regionally extinct, the beetles became restricted to the Addo National Park, where small herds of buffalo and elephant survived.

Did you know?
that the flightless dung beetle of Addo National Parks benefits from the fact that tourist roads have been tarred? When rolling their dung balls across or off a gravel road and onto surrounding soil in order to bury the ball and complete the life cycle, they could become stuck on the windrows that accumulate with periodic maintenance of gravel roads. This would cause the beetles to expend much energy trying to push balls over windrows and cause them eventually to become exhausted and have to abandon their balls. Flightless dung beetles are also very sensitive to temperature extremes and are therefore vulnerable to being stuck in the road when temperatures are rising. Tar roads have no windrows and so do not present these obstacles to flightless dung beetles.


Name (Scientific) Circellium bacchus
Name (English) Addo Flightless Dung Beetle
Name (French) Bousier
Name (German) Elefanten-Mistkäfer
Name (Spanish) Escarabajo pelotero
Local names Afrikaans: Miskruier
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Gareth Roocroft



Range Eastern Cape Province, and previously also Western Cape of South Africa. Was restricted to Addo National Park but has been reintroduced to some other reserves in recent years.
Habitat Spekboomveld, Renosterveld, Fynbos
Wild population While this species is not included on the IUCN list of threatened species, it complies with most of the criteria and therefore would qualify as "vulnerable".
Zoo population None reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Addo Flightless Dung Beetle


How this animal should be transported

For air transport of adult individuals, Container Note 62, for caterpillars Container Note 63, of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Gareth Roocroft

Why do zoos keep this animal

Zoos keep dung beetles for educational reasons for explaining the food chain. Ideally, the species is kept in the context of an African elephant or rhino exhibit, and its terrarium is planted with typical representatives of the Spekboomveld, in particular Portulacaria afra.