Chinese ferret badgers (Melogale moschata) are found from Assam to central China and northern Indochina, as well as in Taiwan, and Hainar (Jones, 1982).
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).
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).
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.
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).
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).
Chinese ferret badgers probably affect populations of invertebrates and small mammals upon which they feed.
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).
No negative impact on humans has been noted for this species.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
breeding takes place throughout the year
Barnhart, D. 2001. "Species Data" (On-line). Accessed October 27, 2001 at http://badgerinfo.com/ferretbadger.html.
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 http://www.wii.gov.in/envis/envisdec99/smalltootchbadger.htm.
Jackson, S. 1998. "The Ferret Badgers (Melogale spp.): Fact File - About the Ferret Badgers." (On-line). Accessed October 27, 2001 at http://www.badgers.org.uk/badgerpages/ferret-badgers-01.html.
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.