Mustela kathiah 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Mustela kathiah Hodgson, 1835
Common Name(s):
English Yellow-bellied Weasel
French Cataquil
Taxonomic Notes: The intraspecific variation of Yellow-bellied Weasel has not been studied yet. A molecular study found high differences between specimens from south China (Yunnan) and southern Vietnam (Abramov et al. 2013).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-03
Assessor(s): Willcox, D.H.A., Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J., Abramov, A.V., Choudhury, A., Chutipong, W., Chan, B., Lau, M. & Roberton, S.
Reviewer(s): Schipper, J.
Contributor(s): Ved, N.
Yellow-bellied Weasel is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, occurrence in a number of protected areas, and its evident tolerance of heavy habitat degradation and intensive use of non-selective hunting methods. Although forest conversion is continuing rapidly in South-east Asia, the main populations of this species are in hill forest, which has markedly lower clearance rates than do level lowland forests, In short, there is a lack of any plausible identified threat that could be driving declines at rates to qualify for listing even as Near Threatened.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Yellow-bellied Weasel is found along parts of the Indian Himalaya through Nepal, Bhutan, North-east India and southern China east to Hong Kong, and in South-east Asia in northern and central Myanmar, northern and central Thailand, Lao PDR and Viet Nam, with one series of records in the Cardamom mountains of Cambodia (Pocock 1941, Duckworth and Robichaud 2005, Than Zaw et al. 2008, Pei et al. 2010, Ghimirey and Acharya 2012, Supparatvikorn et al. 2012, Abramov et al. 2013, Choudhury 2013, Phan et al. 2014). The southernmost record is from the Dalat Plateau, Viet Nam (Abramov et al. 2013). Historically, this species was much overlooked in South-east Asia, with no records from Thailand at all, and the few from Viet Nam all coming from the northern highlands. Its full southern extent is perhaps still not determined (Duckworth and Robichaud 2005). As of late 2014, there are no records from Bangladesh (Hasan Rahman pers comm. 2014), although it seems likely to occur in the evergreen forests of the north-east.

There is wide variation in altitudinal use over Yellow-bellied Weasel's range. In Hong Kong, it is found from close to sea-level to over 200 m (M.W.N. Lau pers. comm. 2006). In China, it has been recorded at 150 m on Hainan Island, at 1,415 m in north-western Guangxi, to 1,900 m in north-west Yunnan (Bosco P.L. Chan pers. comm. 2014) There is one record from Viet Nam at only 50 m, although most others traced by Roberton (2007) were in hills and mountains. Records from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Myanmar are all from above 770 m, most from above 1,000 m (Than Zaw et al. 2008, Supparatvikorn et al. 2012, Phan et al. 2014) and given patterns of survey effort, it is safe to conclude that it does not typically inhabit the lowlands of South-east Asia west of the Annamite Mountains. In India it occurs mostly at 1,000-4,000 m (Choudhury 2013), in Bhutan up to 3,800 m (P. Yonzon pers. comm. 2006).
Countries occurrence:
Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand; Viet Nam
Additional data:
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):4000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Recent camera-trap records suggest that Yellow-bellied Weasel is fairly common in forested areas in southern China (Lau et al. 2010), where few other small carnivores survive in meaningful numbers. However, in general it seems difficult to camera-trap (e.g., Than Zaw et al. 2008, Supparatvikorn et al. 2012, Willcox et al. 2014: SOM3) and this hinders assessment of its population status. Despite the rather low density of records across most of its range, there is no reason to assume that this species is rare, and its persistence in various highly degraded and/or heavily hunted areas suggests its population is unlikely to be in decline (e.g., Duckworth and Robichaud, 2005, Lau et al. 2010).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Population severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
All individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Yellow-bellied Weasel in most of its range is generally associated with rugged highlands (over 1,000 m). It may occur well below 1,000 m in such areas, but it seems unlikely that the species occurs at lower elevations in areas away from high altitude terrain, except in parts of China and Viet Nam. While evidently primarily an evergreen forest species, it seems likely that it is tolerant of even quite severe habitat degradation, and it appears to persist in the face of heavy hunting (Duckworth and Robichaud 2005, Lau et al. 2010). Its natural history has never been studied; it is evidently diurnal, probably mostly ground-dwelling but an at least occasional climber, and is assumed to be largely carnivorous (but see Wan 2014). On Hainan Island, China, where it is the only Mustela species, thus reducing risks of confusion, villagers report that it raids poultry regularly in villages (Bosco P.L. Chan pers. comm. 2014).
Generation Length (years):3.4
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no evidence of specific demand for this species, but much of its range coincides with heavy generalised mammal hunting using non-specific techniques. The use of Yellow-bellied Weasels so caught is not well understood.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): As with many other forest weasels, there are no major threats known or suspected to this species. In particular, the effects of the current high levels of forest degradation within much of its range cannot be assumed to be strongly negative, given the number of records from degraded and fragmented areas. Similarly, although much of its range coincides with heavy generalised mammal hunting using non-specific techniques, there is no evidence that this (or the inevitable retaliatory killing for actual or perceived losses of small livestock such as poultry) is driving steep declines over any large proportion of its range. This does not mean that such declines might not be occurring locally; this is most likely to be so in Viet Nam, looking at patterns of ground-level snaring pressure. Even in this case, the paucity of salvage records from snare lines suggests that weasels are only rarely caught: plausibly they move through the brush-wood drift fences (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2014) and, given that the snare-lines usually run across relatively open understorey, weasels perhaps avoid these areas anyway (D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). It remains secure in heavily hunted parts of south China where most other carnivores are now very rare (Lau et al. 2010).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In Viet Nam, this species is protected in group 2b, because it is an enemy of rats (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop 2006). It is listed as Near Threatened on the China Red List (Wang and Xie 2004). It is listed by India on CITES Appendix III. It has been found in relatively many protected areas across its range. No specific conservation action or research is obviously needed to protect this species. However, a taxonomic reassessment is warranted in case the species as currently defined includes a restricted-range cryptic species.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
suitability:Marginal season:resident 
3. Shrubland -> 3.7. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
suitability:Marginal season:resident 
4. Grassland -> 4.7. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
suitability:Marginal season:resident 
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.6. Artificial/Terrestrial - Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:Not Applicable
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy

Bibliography [top]

Abramov, A.V., Meschersky, I.G., Aniskin, V.M. and Rozhnov, V.V. 2013. The Mountain Weasel Mustela kathiah (Carnivora: Mustelidae): molecular and karyological data. Biology Bulletin 40: 52–60.

Choudhury, A. 2013. The mammals of North east India. Gibbon Books and the Rhino Foundation for Nature in NE India, Guwahati, Assam, India.

Corbet, G.B. and Hill, J.E. 1992. Mammals of the Indo-Malayan Region: a Systematic Review. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Duckworth, J.W. and Robichaud, W.G. 2005. Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah sightings in Phongsaly province, Laos, with notes on the species' range in South-East Asia, and recent records of other small carnivores in the province. Small Carnivore Conservation 33: 17–20.

Ghimirey, Y. and Acharya, R. 2012. Records of Siberian Weasel Mustela sibirica and Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah from Makalu-Barun National Park, Nepal. Small Carnivore Conservation 47: 68–69.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Lau, M.W.N., Fellowes, J.R. and Chan, B.P.L. 2010. Carnivores (Mammalia: Carnivora) in South China: a status review with notes on the commercial trade. Mammal Review 42: 247–292.

Pei, K.J.-C., Lai, Y.-C., Corlett, R.T. and Suen, K.-Y. 2010. The larger mammal fauna of Hong Kong: species survival in an highly degraded landscape. Zoological Studies 49: 253–264.

Phan C., Kamler, J.F. and Macdonald, D.W. 2014. The first records of Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah from Cambodia. Small Carnivore Conservation 50: 39–41.

Pocock, R.I. 1941. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Taylor & Francis, Ltd., London, UK.

Roberton, S.I. 2007. Status and conservation of small carnivores in Vietnam. University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K. (Ph.D. thesis).

Supparatvikorn, S., Sutasha, K., Sirisumpun, T., Kunthawong, N., Chutipong, W. and Duckworth, J.W. 2012. Discovery of the Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah in Thailand. Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society 58: 19–30.

Than Zaw, Saw Htun, Saw Htoo Tha Po, Myint Maung, Lynam, A.J., Kyaw Thinn Latt and Duckworth, J.W. 2008. Status and distribution of small carnivores in Myanmar. Small Carnivore Conservation 38: 2–28.

Tizard, R. 2002. Records of little known small carnivores from Thailand, Lao PDR and southern China. Small Carnivore Conservation 26: 3.

Wan, J.P.H. 2014. Intake of an ethnomedical shrub by Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah. Small Carnivore Conservation 51: 34–37.

Citation: Willcox, D.H.A., Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J., Abramov, A.V., Choudhury, A., Chutipong, W., Chan, B., Lau, M. & Roberton, S. 2016. Mustela kathiah. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41655A45214014. . Downloaded on 25 September 2018.
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