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Melogale moschata 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Melogale moschata
Species Authority: (Gray, 1831)
Common Name(s):
English Small-toothed Ferret Badger, Small-toothed Ferret-badger, Chinese Ferret Badger, Chinese Ferret-badger
Taxonomic Notes: The morphological similarities shared by all Melogale species mean that further research on the systematics of this genus is necessary (Long 1992); there is no recent comprehensive study.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-03
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W., Abramov, A.V., Willcox, D.H.A., Timmins, R.J., Choudhury, A., Roberton, S., Long, B. & Lau, M.
Reviewer(s): Schipper, J.
Contributor(s): Coudrat, C.N.Z.
Small-toothed Ferret Badger is listed as Least Concern because of its wide distribution, large populations in anthropogenic environments of large parts of China indicating high tolerance to habitat modification, occurrence in a number of protected areas (probably many and throughout its range), and because it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category. However, this does not exclude that the species might be at risk in the southern portion of its range. Given the high relative proportion of its total range that is shared with Large-toothed Ferret Badger, it is conceivable that it could be declining fast enough over enough of its range to qualify for Near Threatened or even Vulnerable, but there is no even weak evidence to suggest this. When the geographic and ecological distribution of Small-toothed Ferret Badger in South-east Asia is clarified, it warrants a review of conservation status given that hunting and habitat encroachment are both widespread and locally heavy.
Previously published Red List assessments:
  • 2008 – Least Concern (LC)
  • 1996 – Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Small-toothed Ferret Badger is found in China (central and south-eastern mainland, Hainan and Hong Kong), Taiwan province of China, North-east India (e.g., Naga Hills), northern Myanmar, North and Central Lao PDR, and Viet Nam (Pocock 1941, Than Zaw et al. 2008, Lau et al. 2010, Robichaud 2010, Choudhury 2013, Abramov and Rozhnov 2014). Occurrence in a large area of Thailand was mapped by Storz and Wozencraft (1999), but Chutipong et al. (2014) could trace no record from the country. A major southward extension of known range in Viet Nam (Abramov and Rozhnov 2014) suggests that elsewhere in South-eat Asia, potentially including Thailand, it could also occur many degrees of latitude further south than is conventionally assumed. It is also likely to occur in southern Bhutan, because there is a record from Buxa Tiger Reserve just south of that country (Choudhury 2013) and there are ferret badger records unidentified to species from the country (e.g., Tempa et al. 2013).

In the wide region of sympatry with Large-toothed Ferret Badger M. personata (Myanmar, Lao PDR, Viet Nam, India, southern China, and potentially Thailand, Cambodia, and much of its mainland Chinese range), the continued rarity of use of reliable characters to identify records of ferret badgers to species (most recent potential records lack skulls or did not have the skull characters checked and were not preserved) hinder advances in understanding this species’s current distribution, status or ecology in these regions. It appears that, at least in eastern China, identification by examination of only the teeth may also be misleading (Stefen and Feiler 2004). Pelage characters are, so far as is presently known, unreliable in species-level identification (e.g., Choudhury 2013) so field records, including skin specimens lacking an associated skull, need to be considered as identifiable only to genus. Examination of the baculum in males also allows conclusive identification (Abramov and Rozhnov 2014) as, presumably, would genetics.

Most past statements about its altitudinal range are or may be based on identifications from pelage pattern, and thus potentially include some records of Large-toothed Ferret Badger. There are specimen-validated records from up to at least 1,500 m (Pocock 1941). At least in China it occurs down to sea-level.
Countries occurrence:
China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Taiwan, Province of China; Viet Nam
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):1500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Small-toothed Ferret Badger in general seems to be relatively common, although this can only be confirmed in areas where it does not overlap with M. personata; this comprises, so far as is known, only a large area of China (including Taiwan). Where it does or might overlap, there are too few properly identified records in the area of sympatry to indicate relative abundance of the two species (J.W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2006). "Though widely hunted, this resilient species is probably still widespread and relatively common in many parts of South China" (Lau et al 2010: 263). There were 238 records of this species from Taiwan between 1991 and 1993 (Pei and Wang 1995). This species is still common on Taiwan although some other carnivores on Taiwan have decreased through widespread deterioration of natural habitat and possibly also intensive rodent control programmes during the past few decades (Wang 1986, Pei and Wang 1995). "It is a poorly understood species, despite the fact that it seems quite common" (Wang and Fuller 2003).During a survey on ecology in the village of Taohong, northern Jiangxi Province, southeastern China (about 15 km south of the Yangtze River, at 29º48'N, 116º40'E), 27 records of this species were reported during an 11 month period by Wang and Fuller (2003). Despite the annual average harvest of 40 individuals in an area of about 16 km², which included the study area of Wang and Fuller (2003), this species still seemed rather abundant (Wang and Fuller 2003).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The habitat use of Small-toothed Ferret Badger in South-east Asia is unclear (e.g. Duckworth et al. 1999). Some certainly located records in Viet Nam and Lao PDR are from within little-degraded evergreen forest (Roberton 2007, Robichaud 2010, Abramov and Rozhnov 2014) but at least in Viet Nam ferret badgers of one or more species occur widely in degraded habitats as well. Given the use of farmland landscapes (with woodland copses) in China (e.g., Wang and Fuller 2003), such anthropogenic landscapes might be used in South-east Asia as well. In China it is also occupies broad-leaved forest (e.g., Zhou et al. 2008).

Small-toothed Ferret Badger is fossorial and lives in pre-existing holes (including rodent dens, firewood stacks, open fields, and rock piles around houses (Wang and Fuller 2003), rather than digging new ones (Taylor 1989). It is largely nocturnal (Wang and Fuller 2003) and feeds primarily on small animals such as insects, earthworms (Qian et al. 1976, Chuang and Lee 1997), snails, frogs, and sometimes carcases of small birds and mammals, eggs, and fruit (Chian and Sheng 1976, Long and Killingley 1983, Ewer 1985, Neal 1986, Chuang 1994). Resting home range size was found to be 10.6 ha (Wang and Fuller 2003).

Almost all pregnant females were found between March and October during a study on the reproduction of this species on Taiwan (Pei and Wang 1995). Litter size is two, and evidence suggests that it breeds once a year (Pei and Wang 1995). This species is often found near human habitations (Storz and Wozencraft 1999), taking shelter during the day, and earthworms (the most important part of its diet) are most abundant in the fertile vegetable gardens and farmland soils where this species frequently forages (Wang and Fuller 2003). It is also sometimes invited into native huts to exterminate cockroaches and other insects (Storz and Wozencraft 1999).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Generation Length (years):4.5
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In North-east India the species is hunted for food (A.U. Choudhury pers. comm. 2007) and this is probably true almost across its range. In Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Myanmar many non-selective methods are used, particularly intensively in Viet Nam and Lao PDR, which catch this species; there is no evidence that it is a specifically desired target. Ferret badgers are eaten and probably used medicinally (J.W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2006). In southern China this species has historically been one of the most important fur-bearers and is subjected to heavy harvest pressure (Shou 1962, Sheng 1993, Storz and Wozencraft 1999); there are now very large numbers farmed in China and the majority of traded animals - it is common in trade in south China - are believed to be of farmed stock (Lau et al. 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In North-east India the genus is hunted for food (A.U. Choudhury pers. comm. 2007) and this is true across most or all of its range. In southern China this species has historically been one of the most important furbearers and is subjected to heavy harvest pressure (Shou 1962, Sheng 1993, Storz and Wozencraft 1999) and declines have occurred because of this (Lau et al. 2010). However, even in southern China the genus, apparently mostly this species, remains common and widespread (Lau et al. 2010). In the northern part of its range, in central China, because this species is perceived neither to prey on livestock, nor cause to damage to property or farm facilities, it is not persecuted, despite its close proximity to people (Wang and Fuller 2003). In addition, the value of an individual pelt is not high, although the meat is eaten in some areas (Wang and Fuller 2003). Also in the Chinese part of its range there seems to be little threat from habitat change, given the species's occurrence in highly anthropogenic environments. Understanding threats further south in its range, where it is or might be sympatric with Large-toothed Ferret Badger, is forestalled by the difficulties of identification to species. Ferret badgers of one or more species are among the most widely camera-trapped small carnivores in Viet Nam, including in very heavily hunted areas where most species are now rare (Willcox et al. 2014); perhaps the species is as resilient in South-east Asia as it is further north.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is likely to occur in many protected areas across its range, specifically the northern part; the paucity of records from protected areas in the southern part, where it overlaps with Melogale personata (e.g., Nakai-Nam Theun NBCA, Lao PDR, Robichaud 2010; Chu Yang Sin National Park, Viet Nam, Abramov and Rozhnov 2014), perhaps signifies little other than the difficulties of confirming identification to species. In India, it is protected in Schuedule 2, Part 1. This species is listed as Near Threatened on the China Red List (Wang and Xie 2004).

Citation: Duckworth, J.W., Abramov, A.V., Willcox, D.H.A., Timmins, R.J., Choudhury, A., Roberton, S., Long, B. & Lau, M. 2016. Melogale moschata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41626A45209676. . Downloaded on 25 July 2016.
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