Mydaus javanensisSunda stink badger

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Geographic Range

Mydaus javanensis has a limited, isolated distribution on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and North Natuna Islands (Nowak 1997; Long and Killingley 1983).

Habitat

Mydaus javanensis are montane and are seldom found on the plains. They are found often above 7,000 ft. in elevation, but may occur below 4,000 ft. and even as low as 850 ft. in West Java. Most M. javanensis inhabit shallow burrows underground. However, in Borneo they inhabit caves at high elevations (Long and Killingley 1983).

  • Range elevation
    250 (low) m
    820.21 (low) ft
  • Average elevation
    2100 m
    6889.76 ft

Physical Description

Mydaus javanensis are classified as true badgers. They were once classifed with the skunks because of their black and white coloration and strong scent glands, but the accesory cusp on the inner projection of the upper fourth premolar and the large front digging feet places M. javanensis with Meles and Taxidea.

Coloration of M. javanensis varies from dark black to blackish brown. All have a white patch on the top of the head. A white mid-dorsal stripe extends from the patch on the head and is either interrupted or extends posteriorly down the spine to the tail. Fur is sparse on the belly. Hair on the neck stands nearly erect. Their eyes are small and the pinna (or ear flap) are vestigial.

The body of M. javanensis is small, squat, heavy, and nearly plantigrade. They have a long, pointed, mobile snout, short, muscular legs, long, strong recurved claws on the front feet, and a short tail. The musculature forms a web that extends to the base of the foreclaws. The toes are bound together as far as the base of the claws. Their nose to tailbase ranges from 370 to 510mm and their tail length ranges from 50 to 75mm. All M. javanensis have a well-developed anal scent gland.

The cheek teeth have low, rounded cusps with circular formed crowns (Nowak 1997; Long and Killingley 1983).

  • Range mass
    1.4 to 3.6 kg
    3.08 to 7.93 lb
  • Range length
    370 to 510 mm
    14.57 to 20.08 in

Reproduction

Females have six teats-four pectoral and two inguinal. They are estimated to give birth to two or three offspring per litter. The litter is brought up in the underground burrows (Jackson 2001; Long and Killingley 1983).

  • Average number of offspring
    2-3

Behavior

In general, M. javanensis are nocturnal and feed at night. During the daytime, they hole up in shallow burrows underground. They use their strong claws to dig simple tunnels that end in a larger chamber where bedding is placed. Tunnels extend no more than 2 ft. (60 cm) in depth and 6 ft. in length. The bedding chamber has a diameter of several feet. For concealment, twigs and dry leaves are placed at the external entrance. The burrows are often dug near and protected by the bases and roots of trees. They will also occupy porcupine burrows--even sometimes sharing the burrows with the porcupines. The dens have an unpleasant smell, but sometimes this may be confused with paku sigung (the stink badger fern), a similarly smelling local plant. Most M. javanensis live in pairs (Jackson 2001; Nowak 1997; Long and Killingley 1983).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Mydaus javanensis uses its strong forelimbs, long claws, and 'pig-like' snout to root through soils and feed. At night, these animals forage for insects and worms. They feed mainly on invertebrates and plant material (Nowak 1997; Long and Killingley 1983).

Foods eaten include: worms, especially earth worms, insects, insect grubs, bird eggs, carrion and plant material.

  • Animal Foods
  • eggs
  • carrion
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Predation

When endangered, M. javanensis uses its well-developed scent gland. It will raise its tail and then emit a pungent, foul, milky green secretion. The secretion can be ejected with some accuracy. The secretion is nauseating and damaging when it comes in contact with the predator. Humans have fainted from the stench. Dogs have been asphyxiated by the fluid or even blinded when struck in the eye. Mydaus javanensis is quite fierce and growls and bites when handled.

It is a slow mover and can only run away at a trot (about the speed of a human's walk) for about 100 meters (Jackson 2001; Nowak 1997; Long and Killingley 1983).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

In the past, natives of the island diluted the fluid from the scent gland to manufacture perfumes for their Javanese sultans.

Some islanders will hunt and kill M. javanensis, immediately remove the scent glands and eat the meat.

Drink mixtures of the skin shavings and water have also been made as traditional 'cures' for fever or rheumatism (Jackson 2001; Long and Killingley 1983).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

As they turn up soil to forage for insects and worms, M. javanensis often uproot freshly planted seeds on agricultural lands. The roots of crop plants may also be eaten, which damages sprouting plants (Long and Killingley 1983).

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Indonesian law has protected M. javanensis since 1979. Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park (15,000 ha.) in Java and Danau Sentarum National Park (80,000 ha.) in West Kalimantan, Borneo are two protected park areas where M. javanensis are found (Jackson 2001).

Other Comments

Ticks that parasitize this species include Haemaphysalis hystricus, Haemaphysalis konings bergeri, and Ixodes spinacozalis.

There are two subspecies of M. javanensis. The Borneo Stink Badger, M. javanensis lucifer tends to be darker in pelage. The other subspecies, M. javanensis javanensis lives on Java, Sumatra and North Natuna Islands.

Mydaus javanensis was classified by F. Cuvier in 1821. It is known by several different names, in different languages:

Malayan: Teledu;

Indonesian: Sigung;

German: Stinkdachs;

Norwegian: Stinkgraevling.

It is also known as the Sunda Stink Badger and probably many other names.

Its original name was Mephitis javanensis before it was placed with the true badgers. Mydaus is derived from the greek word 'mudao' ("I am damp"), which refers to its unpleasant damp, decaying smell (Jackson 2001; Nowak 1997; Long and Killingley 1983).

Contributors

Rachel Krauskopf (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kate Teeter (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

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.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

carrion

flesh of dead animals.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

drug

a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease

endothermic

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.

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

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

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

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

nocturnal

active during the night

oriental

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

World Map

sexual

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

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

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

viviparous

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

References

Jackson, S. September 2, 2001. "Badger Pages" (On-line). Accessed November 15, 2001 at http://www.badgers.org.uk/badgerpages/info.html.

Long, C., C. Killingley. 1983. The Badgers of the World. Sprinfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas.

Nowak, R. 1997. "Walker's Mammals of the World-Online 5.1" (On-line). Accessed November 17, 2001 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/carnivora/carnivora.mustelidae.mydaus.html.