Melogale personataBurmese ferret-badger

Last updated:

Geographic Range

The range of the Melogale personata includes Nepal, north-eastern India, Myanmar (formally Burma), southern most provinces of China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia (Jackson 2001). A subspecies of M. personata, Melogale personata orientalis, is found on the Indonesian island of Java (Colijn 2000).

Habitat

The Burmese ferret badger is a terrestrial species that can live in forests, savannas, or grasslands (Nowak & Paradiso 1983).

Physical Description

Burmese ferret badgers are small weighing between 1 and 3 kg at maturity. Melogale personata have an elongated body that can reach a head and body length ranging from 330 mm to 430 mm long. They have bushy tails between 150 mm to 230 mm long. Their legs resemble a typical badger because they are short with broad paws and large claws used in digging. Melogale personata, like all ferret badgers, have partially webbed toes and ridges on the pads of their feet. These characteristics are believed to be adaptations for climbing. Melogale personata have grayish to brownish fur with a lighter fur on their underside. They have white heads with black markings including a black band across their muzzle and another across the forehead between their ears. Burmese ferret badgers have thinner black stripes on their face than the Chinese ferret badger. The white dorsal stripe of the Burmese ferret badger runs from its head to the base of the tail. This distinguishes it from the Chinese ferret badger because in the Chinese species the dorsal stripe does not reach the base of the tail (Jackson 2001).

  • 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

Researchers in Thailand reproted the average litter size of M. personata is 3 cubs. Burmese ferret badgers are born in burrows, just before the rainy season. They are fed in the burrow for two to three weeks by their mother. Beyond this virtually nothing is known about the reproductive cycle and life history of M. personata (Pei & Wang 1995).

  • Average number of offspring
    3
  • Average number of offspring
    3
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Burmese ferret badgers have lived ten years in captivity. However, there are no data on the lifespan of Burmese ferret badgers in the wild (Jackson 2001).

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    10 (high) years

Behavior

Burmese ferret badgers are primarily nocturnal. However, they have limited day activity usually focused around dawn and dusk and lasting no more than a few hours (Jackson 2001). Melogale personata spend most of the day sleeping in a burrow or natural shelter. They do not dig their own holes to create burrows, instead they use preexisting burrows. Information is limited regarding ferret badgers' social organizations, home ranges and territories. One study showed male ferret badgers have home ranges that are large enough to encompass the ranges of several females, approximately 4 to 9 hectares. Researchers have suggested that members of the genus Melogale are solitary except during the breeding season, but more research is needed to further understand the social organization and reproductive behavior (Jackson 2001).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The Burmese ferret badger forages primarily on the ground, but they do spend some time in trees hunting insects and snails. Melogale personata has larger teeth than the other Melogale species. The massive teeth of M. personata are thought to be an adaptation for crushing hard shelled insects and mollusks (primarily snails). The Burmese ferret badger also eats cockroaches, grasshoppers, and earthworms. They also prey upon small mammals, including young rats, frogs, toads, small lizards, carrion, small birds, bird eggs, plant matter, and fruit (Jackson 2001).

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

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Lepcha and Bhotia peoples in northeast India keep M. personata in their homes to control cockroaches and other insect and rodent pests. M. personata is hunted and trapped in southeast Asia. Like all ferret badgers, the Burmese ferret badger is used as a source of food, fur, and medicines by the local people (Jackson 2001).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Badgers including M. personata are suspected to be able to transmit tuberculosis (TB) to cattle; however, research has not been able to determine how this may take place (Hutchinson 2000).

Conservation Status

Although M. personata is not currently listed as threatened or endangered, habitat destruction and degradation due to high rates of deforestation in its range could be a significant threat to its survival and success. Melogale personata orientalis, a subspecies of M. personata, is described as low risk - near threatened, meaning they are close to being considered vulnerable and may need future conservation attention (Colijn 2000).

Other Comments

Melogale personata was first described in 1831 by Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (Mammal Species of the World, 1993).

Contributors

Rosie Clarke (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.

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.

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.

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

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

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

viviparous

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

References

1993. "Mammal Species Of The World (MSW) Scientific Names" (On-line). Accessed November 19, 2001 at http://www.nmnh.si.edu/cgi-bin/wdb/msw/names/query/12221.

Colijn, E. January 2000. "IUCN MAMMAL RED LIST INDONESIA" (On-line). Accessed November 19, 2001 at http://users.bart.nl/~edcolijn/redlistm.html.

Hutchinson, 2000. "Badger" (On-line). Accessed November 20, 2001 at http://ebooks.whsmithonline.co.uk/htmldata/ency.asp?mainpage=HTTP://EBOOKS.WHSMITHONLINE.CO.UK/ENCYCLOPEDIA/23/M0007423.HTM.

Jackson, S. October 10, 2001. "Badger Pages: The Ferret Badgers" (On-line). Accessed November 10, 2001 at http://www.badgers.org.uk.

Nowak, R., J. Paradiso. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Pei, K., Y. Wang. 1995. Some Observations on the Reproduction of the Taiwan Ferret Badger (*Melogale moschata subaurantiaca*) in Southern Taiwan. Zoological Studies, 33: 34.