Chinese Ferret-Badger: Habitat and Characteristics

The Chinese ferret-badger fur was one of the most exploited skins in southern China. Despite this, it seems that the population of this species has not been affected and remains stable.
Chinese Ferret-Badger: Habitat and Characteristics

Last update: 17 July, 2021

The Chinese ferret-badger is a small terrestrial mammal that has an elongated and quite flexible body. It’s easily recognized for its distinctive face markings and shy character. In addition to this, it has lived with man for a long time, adapting to the changes that exist in its environment.

This species belongs to the Mustelidae family, and so it’s related to weasels, otters, and ferrets. The Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata) is a small animal that can become a good ally for humans. Read on to get to know more about it.

Pole badger habitat

This mammal is native to southern China, but can be found in parts of the Indian-Asian continent. This includes India, Laos, Vietnam, and Taiwan, where it matches the Burmese badger (Melogale personata) in several regions.

This animal prefers tropical and subtropical climates and its habitats include forests and grasslands. Despite this, it isn’t afraid of living in areas such as farms, fragmented forests, and close to homes.

A polecat badger.

Physical characteristics

This badger is one of the smallest that exist. It can weigh between 1 and 3 kilos (2 – 6 pounds) and reaches 30 or 40 centimeters in length (12 – 16 inches). This species has a long tail, prominent ears, and a particularly slender shape. On its legs you can see strong claws, which are excellent for digging.

Its body has a dark coloration, which varies little between gray and brown tones. Its face has darkened fur, with white spots around the eye, giving it the characteristic shape of a mask. Meanwhile, its coat is short with a white line on its back.

The behavior of the polecat badger

It’s a shy species, and so it prefers to move at night, in order to avoid interaction with humans. In addition, thanks to this, it can take advantage of the food from orchards or plantations, and won’t be disturbed.

In addition, these animals are governed by territories, but they can become social and even form groups. According to a study published by Zhejiang University, males and females can live together in the same areas, forming groups of up to 7 badgers.

Thanks to its powerful claws, this badger is capable of climbing trees, although it normally digs holes for protection. Even so, this mammal can climb and sleep on top of tree branches.

Chinese ferret-badger feeding

This type of badger is omnivorous, as its diet consists of small rodents, amphibians, invertebrates and, in some cases, fruits. However, it prefers to feed on worms and insects, as they’re a greater source of protein. In addition, for this reason, specimens are usually found in cultivation areas, as this type of invertebrate is more frequent there.

Reproduction of the Chinese ferret-badger

The reproduction season of the species begins in January, but most of the specimens mate between February and March. In addition, after September, this mammal begins its quiescence phase, which means that it won’t be able to reproduce until the following year.

Because of this, females can become pregnant from February to October, at which time they’ll have a gestational period of at least 57 days. Although we don’t yet know for sure, an article published in the scientific journal Zoological Studies found that most of these ferret-badgers only have one litter per year.

After reproduction and gestation, between 2 and 3 young are born per litter. The mother will feed them milk and take care of them inside a burrow. The little ones will become independent when they reach 2 or 3 months of age and, at that time, they will leave the protection of the mother. In their natural habitat, these badgers usually reach 10 years of age.

Importance of the polecat badger

In its ecosystem, it can be considered a pest controller, as this mammal feeds on different invertebrates. In addition, when it consumes fruit it can become a seed disperser. However, it isn’t very good at this task, and is considered inefficient.

For humans, this little ferret-badger is considered a household pest controller, as it can feed on roaches. Some people even encourage this animal to enter their home, and to kill this, and other, insects. In rural areas, the Chinese ferret-badger can be considered a great ally.

State of conservation

This animal is very common in northeast India, and locals often hunt it for food. Even so, the Chinese ferret-badger is widely distributed and its population doesn’t appear to have declined. For these reasons, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified it as a species of Least Concern.

Its great adaptability has given this animal the opportunity to survive in such a changing environment. This makes the interaction between man and badger so close that it can cause some conflicts. However, in general, the relationship is a good one.

 

Although not always possible, all relationships between men and animals should aspire to this. The Chinese ferret-badger is the living example that humans can coexist with species without stepping on their biological needs. The answer lies in living with other species, not in ruthlessly exploiting their environments.

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