Ferret Badger

The ferret badgers are a group of badger species primarily found in Asia.

They are so-called because, unlike the creature most people think of as a badger, these have long, pointed, ferret-like snouts. This is also a feature of the polecat (or marten), which leads to the scientific name of the group- Melogale, from the Latin Meles for badger and gale for polecat.

They are all small, long animals with bushy tails. Nose to tail, they are about half a meter long, with over a third of that accounted for by the tail. Like other badgers, they have short legs strong enough for digging. Unlike the others, they are quite capable of climbing trees. They have grey or brown fur, with black and white striped faces. A black spot is seen in the middle of their white cheeks. Their nose, ears and feet are pink.

They all live in forests and wooded areas. They are nocturnal, and eat small and juvenile animals, occasionally stooping to fruit, plants and birds' eggs.

The peoples of south east Asia trap ferret badgers for food, fur and folk-pharmaceuticals; although they are legally protected species in many countries.

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae (mustelids; the weasel family)
Subfamily: Melinae (true badgers)

There are four varieties of ferret badger: the Borneo Ferret Badger, the Chinese Ferret Badger, the Javan Ferret Badger and the Burmese Ferret Badger.


Chinese Ferret Badger - Melogale moschata

The Chinese Ferret Badger rejoices in a latin name meaning "Musky Badger-polecat". This is a trifle unfair, since it shares its strong smell with the other ferret badgers, and with Badgers generally.

It is found in much of China, northern Myanmar, Laos; as far west as Nepal and as far east as Taiwan. It has the widest range of any of the ferret badgers, although the Taiwanese version is isolated and is now considered as a sub-species, Melogale moschata subaurantiaca.

They eat mostly invertebrates such as worms and insects, with the odd lizard or scrap of plant matter.


Borneo Ferret Badger, Everett's Ferret Badger, or Kinabalu Ferret Badger - Melogale everetti

Discovered in 1895, the Borneo Ferret Badger is one of the most recent additions to the group of known carnivorous mammals. (Second only to a mysterious sighting of December 2005, which has become known as the Borneo Cat-Fox) Welcome! The beast is also known as Everett's Ferret Badger or the Kinabalu Ferret Badger. It's mostly brown, with a white stripe running from their heads down to their shoulders.

Its only known habitat is the forests on Mount Kinabalu, in the northern tip of the Malaysian island of Borneo. Like all creatures with a limited range, the major threat to this species is habitat loss. Sadly the IUCN lists the degradation of this habitat as "human induced" and "ongoing".

This Ferret Badger augments the normal diet of earthworms with small birds and rats. It's possible to catch it with banana bait.

Alfred Hart Everett (1848-1898) discovered this critter, along with many others. Working as a British civil servant (read imperialist) in south east Asia, he also located three other mammals, ten birds, two fish, and a number of amphibians and other beasties. He also published reports on the Bornean landscape.


Burmese Ferret Badger - Melogale Personata

The Burmese Ferret Badger is distinguished by a long stripe running from its head to the base of its tail

It is found throughout Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and into southern China.

The Burmese Ferret Badger has larger teeth than its cousins, which may be used to crack open insect shells, so that it can supplement its diet with snails and cockroaches.


Javan Ferret Badger - Melogale orientalis

Less is known about the Javan Ferret Badger than any other. It's range is limited to the Indonesian island of Java.



Sources:

  • http://www.badgerbadgerbadger.com
  • http://www.badgerecology.org/BEclass.htm
  • http://www.badgers.org.uk/badgerpages/ferret-badgers-03.html
  • http://www.answers.com/topic/everett-s-ferret-badger
  • http://www.arbec.com.my/lizards/literature.php
  • http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/13110/summ
  • http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Hart_Everett
  • http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,3605,1660684,00.html?gusrc=rss

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