Back-striped Weasel (Mustela strigidorsa)


HB: 275-325; T: 145-205; HF: 47-54; E: 20-23; W: 1-2 kg.

Generally brown on the back, tail and legs, with the upper lip, cheeks, chin and throat pale yellowish. The tails is rather bushy. The feet have well developed footpads, and the area around them is entirely naked, as in  M nudipes, but different from M. sibirica. The female as 2 pairs of mammae. The skull is similar M.sibirica but as no sagittal crest and has the post orbital area constricted rather than parallel sided. The occipital crest form a straight line as in M. sibirica. The baculum has the tip divided into two processes, one on each side of a groove; the tip is sharply curved. The dention has 4 lower premolars, one more than M..sibirica and M. nudipes.

Range Description:

This species is found in "Myanmar, China (Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi), India, Lao, Thailand, and Vietnam" (Wilson and Reeder 2005; Zhang 1997). There are also two old specimens catalogued as from ‘Nepal’, but they probably did not come from within the boundaries of the modern country (Hinton and Fry 1923) and the species has not been found in Bhutan (Yonzon pers. comm.), which lies between Nepal and the species' known range. The occurrence of M. strigidorsa has been confirmed from scattered localities in and around northeastern India, northern and central Myanmar, southern China, northern Thailand, northern and central Lao and Vietnam (Abramov et al. 2008). This species has a wide altitudinal range of almost sea-level to 2,500 m (Abramov et al. 2008). In Lao PDR, this species was historically found only at Phongsali (Delacour 1940), however, there are recent records from all but a couple of the remaining blocks of hill semi- and evergreen forest which have had biodiversity surveys exceeding a few weeks (Duckworth et al. 1999, Tizard 2003, Abramov et al. 2008). In India, it has been recorded from Dampa in 1994, and in Namdapha Reserve (Datta 1999). It has been recorded from Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS) and various other sites recently in Thailand (Grassman et al. 2002, Abramov et al. 2008).
Countries: Native:
China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam


In view of limited survey effort, the number of recent records indicates that the species is less rare than previously believed (Grassman et al. 2002, Abramov et al. 2008). Globally, there are several dozen historical specimens, their number significantly under-estimated in various 1960s-1990s texts thereby giving a misleading impression of rarity.
Population Trend: Unknown

 Habitat and Ecology:

The stripe-backed weasel probably lives mainly in evergreen forests in hills and mountains, but has been recorded from other biotopes including dense scrub, secondary forest, grassland and farmland (Abramov et al., 2008). Most records come from in or near larger extents of high elevation (1,000 m+) terrain. It sometimes occurs well below 1,000 m in such areas (down almost to sea-level in Vietnam), but there are no records, except in Vietnam, from at lower elevations in areas away from high altitude terrain (Abramov et al. 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

 Major Threat(s):

Although usually perceived as a species under threat, there is no real evidence that it is. However, the habitat requirements of tropical Mustela populations remain effectively unknown, and it may be rash to extrapolate from primarily Holarctic information. About 3,000 to 4,000 pelts were harvested annually in China in the 1970s, with 50 skins were purchased in Nanning, Guangxi, in 1973 (Sheng Helin, 1998). The skins/dried corpses of M. strigidorsa were seen “2-5 times” (the middle class of frequency) in a survey of wildlife trade along the Yunnan-Vietnam border in June-August 1997; the source was said to be Yunnan (Li and Wang, 1999). Outside China, the species is sold at least occasionally in Lao PDR (Hansel and Tizard, 2006) and Vietnam. Even though this weasel is not known to have high economic value, hunting or harvesting for trade could still drive declines because many harvest methods (notably snares) are non-selective. As remaining natural habitats are yet further encroached, the proportion of the species’ occupied area in which it faces such threats will increase. However, the number of records from areas with already high hunting pressure indicate a resilience to such activities (Abramov et al. 2008).

 Conservation Actions:

This species is listed as Endangered on the China Red List (Wang and Xie, 2004). It is protected in Thailand. It is not a targeted species, as it is small and not sought for use for food or medicine, though it is utilized if unintentionally captured (Abramov et al. 2008). It has been recorded in scattered protected areas across its range and likely occurs in many more unsampled parks and reserves (Abramov et al. 2008). More field research would help determine the status, distribution, and conservation of this species (Grassman et al, 2002).