Melogale everettiEverett's ferret-badger

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Geographic Range

Melogale everetti is only found on Mt. Kinabalu on the Northern tip of the island of Borneo. Mt. Kinabalu is in Kinabalu Park in the state of Sabah, Malaysia. It is the only ferret badger to inhabit this region. (Jackson, 1997; Protected Areas Programme, 1999)

Habitat

Melogale everetti occurs on Mt. Kinabalu at elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 m. It is a little-studied species, so information on the particulars of its habitat are lacking. However, the habitat of the genus Melogale is wooded hillsides and sub-tropical and tropical forests. Considering the supporting information, the latter of the three is the most logical habitat description for this particular ferret badger, although there seems to be no information stating this specifically. (Jackson, 1997; Nowak, 1995; Protected Areas Programme, 1999)

  • Range elevation
    1,000 to 3,000 m
    to ft

Physical Description

Melogale everetti is small and long compared to other species of ferret badger. They weigh between one and two kg, and are between 330 and 440 mm in length. The tail is long and bushy and can be from 152 to 230 mm in length.

Ferret badgers have short legs and broad feet with strong digging claws that are characteristic of badgers. There are ridges that run along the pads of the feet and the toes are partially webbed. These are thought to be climbing adaptations.

The defining characteristic of a ferret badger is the white or yellowish ferret-like mask on the face. A dorsal stripe is also present that can range in color from white to red. The rest of the body can range from grey-brown to dark black with a lighter under side.

No specific data exist on variations in coloration between the different ferret badger species, or whether they exhibit geographic variation. (Jackson, 1997; Nowak, 1995; Walker, 1964)

  • Range mass
    1 to 3 kg
    2.20 to 6.61 lb
  • Range length
    330 to 430 mm
    12.99 to 16.93 in

Reproduction

Information on the mating system of this species is not available.

The breeding season of the genus Melogale is long and the females are actually able to reproduce at any point in the year. Males, however, undergo a period of non-reproduction. During this time (from around September to December) the male ferret badger ceases sperm production.

Females give birth to litters of 1 to 5 offspring after a gestation of 57 to 80 days. Young are weaned between 2 and 3 months of age.

Ferret badgers do not employ delayed implantation of embryos. Young are usually born in May and June. (Jackson, 1997; Nowak, 1995)

  • Breeding interval
    It is likely that these animals breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    from around March to September
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 5
  • Range gestation period
    57 to 80 days
  • Range weaning age
    2 to 3 months

Little is known about the parental care in this species. Mothers care for their young in a burrow until they are able to forage for themselves. Nursing lasts for between 2 and 3 months. It is not known exactally when the young become independent of the mother, or whether the father plays any part in parental care. (Jackson, 1997; Nowak, 1995)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

There appears to be no information on the lifespan of M. everetti either in the wild or in captivity. However, a very similar species, Melogale moschata, the Chinese ferret badger, is said to have still been living after 10 years and 6 months in captivity. (Nowak, 1995)

Behavior

Ferret badgers are said to be fierce when provoked or cornered. The bulk of their activity transpires at night but are also active at dusk. When M. everetti isn't out foraging it resides in a burrow. Ferret badgers don't dig their own burrows but capitalize on pre-existing burrows dug by other animals. (Jackson, 1997; Nowak, 1995)

Home Range

The home range size for these animals is not known.

Communication and Perception

Melogale everetti exhibits warning coloration and exudes a pungent odor from its scent glands if pressed. These forms of communication are similar to, but not as extreme as, those of skunks.

As is true of virtually all mammals, visual signals, tactile cues, scents, and vocalizations probably play some role in communication between conspecifics. However, because there seem have been no observations of the behavior of M. everetti in the wild or in captivity published, it is mpt possible to comment further on any specific forms of communication used by these animals. (Nowak, 1995)

Food Habits

All Melogale species appear to be very omnivorous. Ferret badgers forage on the ground mostly for invertebrates, amphibians, insects, fruit and carrion. They are also formidable climbers and have been known to forage in trees as well. (Jackson, 1997; Jackson, 1997; Jackson, 1997)

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • eggs
  • carrion
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Predation

The stripe and mask of M. everetti and its counterparts are thought to be warning coloration. Ferret badgers are said to emit a pungent scent from their anal glands when threatened. (Nowak, 1995)

Ecosystem Roles

Once again this is a field that has not been explored in reference to M. everetti. However, it is likely that because of their predatory behavior, these animals affect the populations of prey organisms. To the extent that these badgers must dig through the upper levels of soils to obtain food, these animals probably contribute to help to aerate the soil.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

People travel from all over the world to visit Kinabalu Park where M. everetti resides. Kinabalu Park has a rich diversity of flora and fauna that attracts tourists. This tourism generates money for the surrounding area and the native people. Also, these animals may help humans in more direct ways. The Burmese ferret badger (Melogale personata) is said to be welcomed into the homes of the natives because their rid the premises of unwanted pests such as insects and invertebrates. (Jackson, 1997; Protected Areas Programme, 1999)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There appears to be no information has been published on any negative affects of M. everetti upon humans.

Conservation Status

The range of these animals is very limited, and as such, the population of these ferret badgers seems to be one which could easily be erradicated if proper steps are not taken to conserve its habitat. Although CITES and the US Endangered Species act don't consider the species any special risk, IUCN lists it as vulnerable.

Luckily for M. everetti, the range of the species falls into a protected national conservation park. (Jackson, 1997; Protected Areas Programme, 1999)

Contributors

Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Nicole Edmison (author), Humboldt State University, Brian Arbogast (editor), Humboldt State University.

Glossary

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

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.

carrion

flesh of dead animals.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

ecotourism

humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.

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

fossorial

Referring to a burrowing life-style or behavior, specialized for digging or burrowing.

island endemic

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

iteroparous

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).

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

omnivore

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

oriental

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

World Map

rainforest

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.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

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

soil aeration

digs and breaks up soil so air and water can get in

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.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

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

References

Burton, J., B. Pearson. 1987. The Collins Guide to the Rare Mammals of the World. Lexington, Mass.: The Stephen Greene Press.

Jackson, S. 1997. "Badger Pages: The ferret badgers (Melogale spp.)" (On-line). Accessed December 3, 2003 at http://www.badgers.org.uk/badgerpages/ferret-badgers-01.html.

Nowak, R. 1995. "Walker's Mammals of the World Online" (On-line). Accessed October 31, 2001 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walker/carnivora.mustelidae.melogale.html.

Protected Areas Programme, 1999. "World Heritage Sites" (On-line). Accessed October 31, 2001 at http://www.wcmc.org.uk/protected_areas/data/wh/kinabalu.html.

Walker, E. 1964. Mammals of the World, Vol. 2. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.