Melogale moschataChinese ferret-badger

Geographic Range

Chinese ferret badgers (Melogale moschata) are found from Assam to central China and northern Indochina, as well as in Taiwan, and Hainar (Jones, 1982).


Melogale moschata live in tropical and subtropical forests, and can also be found in grasslands (Hussain, 2001). (Barnhart, 2001)

Physical Description

M. moschata is the smallest badger. They can weigh from 1 to 3 kg and range in length from 30 to 40 cm (Barnhart, 2001). The dorsal color has phases that vary from dark chocolate-brown, to fawn-brown, to grayish-brown. The underside can vary from white to orange. The face is black with a white forehead, which borders a dark, variable "mask." This species has a characteristic long bushy tail, large ears, and a slender body. The fur of Chinese ferret badgers is short. There usually is a stripe down the middle of the back and a spot on the crown of the head (Long, 1993). They also have elongated, strong fore claws needed for digging (Lekagul, 1977).

  • Range mass
    1 to 3 kg
    2.20 to 6.61 lb
  • Range length
    30 to 40 cm
    11.81 to 15.75 in


The mating system of this species is not known.

Chinese ferret badgers give birth to cubs, which can be born year round, but usually arrive in late spring (May or June) and again in late fall (September and October). On average, two to three cubs make up a litter. These litters are born in burrows. The mother feeds the cubs until they are two to three months of age (Barnhart, 2001).

  • Breeding season
    Births peak in May and June, and then again in September and October.
  • Range number of offspring
    2 to 3
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average weaning age
    2-3 months

The mother cares for her cubs in a den until they are 2 to 3 months old. She protects them and provides them with milk.


In captivity, Chinese ferret badgers have been known to live up to 10 years (Jackson, 2001), and one Chinese ferret badger in captivity lived for 17 years (Jones, 1982).


These animals are active during the night (Jackson, 2001). Some live in holes excavated either by themselves or by other animals, whereas others live in rock crevices (Barnhart, 2001). Chinese ferret badgers have claws that are great for climbing, and often sleep in the branches of trees (Jackson, 2001). Their home ranges are typically from 4 to 9 hectares in size.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Melogale moschata is an omnivore. The diet consists of small rodents, insects, amphibians, invertebrates, and occasionally fruit. The most important food items eaten by ferret badgers are earthworms, insects, and amphibians (Chuang and Lee, 1997; Chien et al., 1976).

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • insects
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit


Specific reports of predation upon ferret badgers are lacking. However, some think that because of the small size of M. moschata, they could be vulnerable to predation by larger carnivores. Chinese ferret badgers will fiercely defend themselves if attacked and also emit a strong odorous secretion from their anal glands (Jackson, 2001).

Ecosystem Roles

Chinese ferret badgers probably affect populations of invertebrates and small mammals upon which they feed.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

People like these animals around because they feed on certain pest insects such as cockroaches (Nowak, 1999). Some people, such as members of the Bhotia and the Lepha tribes, encourage Chinese ferret badgers to come into their huts (Barnhart, 2001).

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

No negative impact on humans has been noted for this species.

Conservation Status

The Chinese ferret badger is listed in Schedule I part I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act (Hussain 2001).


Robert Seefeldt (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year


Barnhart, D. 2001. "Species Data" (On-line). Accessed October 27, 2001 at

Chien, G., H. Sheng, P. Wang. 1976. Winter diet of the ferret badger. Chinese Journal of Zoology, 1: 37.

Chuang, S., L. Lee. 1997. Food Habits of Three Carnivore Species. Journal of Zoology, 243:(1): 71-79.

Hussain, S. 1999. "Small-toothed ferret badger Melogale moschata Gray 1831" (On-line). Mustelids, Viverrids and Herpestids of India: Species Profile and Conservation Status. Accessed April 20, 2005 at

Jackson, S. 1998. "The Ferret Badgers (Melogale spp.): Fact File - About the Ferret Badgers." (On-line). Accessed October 27, 2001 at

Jones, M. 1982. Longevity of Captive Mammals. Zoology, 52: 113-128.

Lekagul, B., J. McNeely. 1988. Mammals of Thailand. Bangkok: Association for the Conservation of Wildlife.

Long, C., C. Killingley. 1993. The Badgers of the World. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.