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Melogale moschata

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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, Chinese Ferret-badger
Taxonomic Notes: Due to the morphological similarities between all Melogale species and because no thorough taxonomic study has been done on this genus, further research on the systematic of this genus is necessary (Long 1992).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J., R., Roberton, S., Long, B., Lau, M.W.N. & Choudhury, A.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
This species is listed as Least Concern due to its wide distribution, locally large populations in central and southern China, occurrence in a number of protected areas throughout its range, tolerance to a high degree of habitat modification, 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.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found in China (central and southeastern, Hainan), northeast India (Naga Hills near Manipur), northern Myanmar, northern Lao, Taiwan, and northern Viet Nam (Pocock 1941, Wilson and Reeder 2005). Southern China constitutes most of the known range (Neal 1986). There are no recent field records in Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1999); though, it was previously assessed as very common around Xiangkhouang and Phongsali (Osgood 1932, Delacour 1940) and it is possible that recent surveys have not used appropriate methodology to find the species. A study on the ecology of this species took place in Taohong Village, northern Jiangxi Province, about 15 km south of the Yangtze River (29º48'N, 116º40'E) (Wang and Fuller 2003). The southern extent of range into central Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and potentially Thailand (where mapped by Storz and Wozencraft 1999, apparently predictively) requires further investigation due to confusion with other species, but it appears to go several degrees of latitude further south than is mapped in standard sources, at least in Viet Nam. The species has been found from 700 to 1,524 m in Viet Nam (Roberton et al. in prep). Records in Lao are from high elevations (Osgood 1932). In India it has been found from 50 to 2,000 m (A. Choudhury pers. comm.). In northern Myanmar it is found up to 5,000 ft (Pocock 1941). Thus, in Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Viet Nam, Cambodia and India there is continued difficulty of identifying recent records of ferret badgers to species, most of which lack skulls or or did not have the skull characters checked and were not preserved. Hence it is impossible to say anything about this species’s current distribution, status or ecology in these regions.

Melogale moschata and M. personata are very similar in external morphologically, and - and field records, including skin specimens lacking an associated skull, need to be considered as identifiable only as Melogale sp. throughout the parts its range where M. personata is known to occur or might plausibly occur, and only references to skull characteristics should be used for species- level identification. Thus, in Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Viet Nam, Cambodia and India there is continued difficulty of identifying recent records of ferret badgers to species, most of which lack skulls or or did not have the skull characters checked and were not preserved. Hence it is impossible to say anything about this species’s current distribution, status or ecology in these regions.
Countries:
Native:
China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Taiwan, Province of China; Viet Nam
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species in general seems to be relatively common, although this can only be confirmed in areas where it does not overlap with M. personata; where it does or might overlap, there are too few properly identified records to indicate relative abundance of the two species (J.W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). However, they are seldom caught in live traps due to their wariness (Storz and Wozencraft, 1999). There are no recent field records in Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1999). It was previously very common around Xiangkhouang and Phongsali (Delacour 1940). There were 238 record of this species from Taiwan between 1991 to 1993 (Pei and Wang, 1995). This species is still common on Taiwan (unlike other carnivores on Taiwan, which have decreased due to widespread deterioration of natural habitat and possibly also intensive rodent control programs 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 Taohong Village, southeastern China, 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).

Melogale moschata and personata are very similar in external morphologically - and field records, including skin specimens lacking an associated skull, need to be considered as identifiable only as Melogale sp. throughout the parts its range where M. personata is known to occur or might plausibly do so, and only references to skull characteristics should be used for species level identification.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The habitat use of this species in Lao PDR is unclear (Duckworth et al. 1999), as it is in the rest of South-east Asia.

This species is fossorial and lives in preexisting 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 exclusively nocturnal (Wang and Fuller, 2003) and feeds primarily on small animals such as insects, earthworms (most important part of its diet (Qian et al, 1976; Chuang and Lee, 1997), snails, frogs, and sometimes carcasses 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 they breed once a year (Pein 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 were 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). Storz and Wozencraft (1999) report that it is found in tropical and subtropical forests and wooded hillsides, as well as grasslands and cultivated areas such as rice fields.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In northeastern India the species is hunted for food (Choudbury pers. comm.). In Lao PDR, parts of all badgers are used in traditional medicine (Baird 1995b), however, there is no evidence that there is a big enough demand to cause declines of ferret badgers (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). 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).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In northeastern India the genus is hunted for food (A. Choudhury pers. comm.). In Lao PDR, parts of all badgers are used in traditional medicine (Baird 1995b), however, there is no evidence that there is a big enough demand to cause declines of ferret badgers (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). 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). Because this species does not prey on poultry or livestock, nor cause to damage to property or farm facilities, it is not threatened by humans, despite its close proximity to them (Wang and Fuller, 2003). In addition, the value of an individual pelt is not high, and the meat is eaten in some areas (Wang and Fuller, 2003).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is likely to occur in many protected areas across its range, specifically the northern part of its range; it has not been found in many protected areas in the southern part of its range where it overlaps with Melogale personata, but given survey methodology to date, the lack of records cannot be use to infer absence of the species (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). 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., Timmins, R.J., R., Roberton, S., Long, B., Lau, M.W.N. & Choudhury, A. 2008. Melogale moschata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 October 2014.
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