Burmese Ferret-Badger (Melogale personata)

Range Description:

This species is found in Northeast India, Myanmar, Thailand, Indochina, and Southern Yunnan (China) (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). There is an old record from western Guangdong (China). In India it is found from 30 to 1,950 m (Choudhury pers. comm.) and Datta (1999) confirmed current occurrence at about 27N in India. Records from Nepal are historic and may differ from what is today recognized as "Nepal" (Hodgson 1836- heliotype for subspecies) - and there have been no subsequent records since (Pralad Yonzon, verbally; see also Hinton and Fry 1923). Records from Northern Vietnam need to be checked in Museums and further investigated (Roberton pers. comm.), although there is a record confirmed from Yanbai (Thomas 1922); other records may not have ruled out M. moschata from the identification. Distributions of species in Cambodia and Lao PDR are highly speculative and based on few verifiable specimens (Duckworth et al. 1999 pers. comm.): A skull of this species was found Khammouan Limestone National Biodiversity Conservation Area in early 1998 (Robinson and Webber 1998a), and "the species was previously common on the Bolaven Plateau (Osgood 1932, Delacour 1940)." [from Duckworth et al. 1999]. The distribution in Myanmar north to 22˚N is well supported by validated individuals, but there seem to be no post-1950 records identified to species (Pocock 1941, Than Zaw et al. in press). This is the only species of the genus confirmed to occur in Thailand, and hence records of the genus are routinely assumed to relate to this species. In fact, M. moschata might also occur too (and was even mapped, apparently predicatively, by Storz and Wozencraft 1999). Melogale moschata and M. personata are very similar in external morphology, and field records, including skin specimens lacking an associated skull, need to be considered as identifiable only as Melogale sp. throughout the parts its range where M. moschata is known to occur or might plausibly do so (effectively, this is all the known range). Only reference to skull characteristics should be used for species-level identification. Thus, in Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia and India there is continued difficulty of identifying recent records of ferret badgers to species, most of which lack skulls or did not have the skull characters checked and were not preserved. Hence it is impossible to say anything about this species' current distribution, status or ecology in these regions.
Countries: Native:
China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam


 The species seems to be patchy in occurrence and generally uncommon but in some localised parts of South-East Asia, ferret badgers (species not known) seem to be more common. The genus is uncommon in Thailand (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.). The species was previously common on the Bolaven Plateau (Osgood 1932, Delacour 1940), however, there are very few recent records from Lao PDR it is unknown if this is due to elusiveness or rarity (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006).
Population Trend: Unknown

 Habitat and Ecology:

It is nocturnal and feeds primarily on small animals such as insects, earthworms, snails, frogs, and sometimes carcasses of small birds and mammals, eggs, and fruit (Chian and Sheng, 1976; Long and Killingley, 1983; Ewer, 1985; Neal, 1986; Chuang, 1994). This species sleeps during the day in its burrow, and comes out at night to feed on cockroaches, grasshoppers, and earthworms (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It is found in forest, grassland, and even rice fields (Lekagul and McNeely 1977), but it is unclear in which habitats populations can persist; records from other habitats may involve sink populations or dispersing individuals. Not much is known about the breeding of this species, though it does have an average litter size of about three (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). This species is fossorial and lives in pre-existing holes, rather than digging new ones (Taylor, 1989).In Lao PDR, little is known about the habitat use of this species (Duckworth et al. 1999). In Thailand, records were found in hill evergreen forests, pine forests and grasslands (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.).
Systems: Terrestrial

 Major Threat(s):

In Lao PDR, parts of all badgers are used in traditional medicine (Baird 1995b), however, there is no evidence that there is a big enough demand to cause declines of ferret badgers (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). There are few records recently from Lao PDR of ferret badgers, but this may well simply be due to inadequate search effort. In Northeastern India the genus is hunted for food (A. Choudhury pers. comm.). Because this genus does not prey on poultry or livestock, nor cause to damage to property or farm facilities, it is not threatened by humans, despite its close proximity to them (Wang and Fuller, 2003). In addition, the value of an individual pelt is not high, and the meat is eaten in some areas (Wang and Fuller, 2003).

 Conservation Actions:

 A skull of this species was found Khammouan Limestone National Biodiversity Conservation Area in early 1998 (Robinson and Webber 1998a). This species may be found to occur in many protected areas across its range (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006); until there are surveys known to be using appropriate methodology, it is difficult to speculate on current presence in protected areas. In India, it is protected in Schedule 2, Part 1. In Thailand it (the Genus) was found in Doi Chieng Doi Wildlife Sanctuary and Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.). It has also been recorded from Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS) in Thailand (L. Grassman pers. comm.).