Overview

Distribution

Indonesian mountain weasels are only found on the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. Indonesian mountain weasels are island endemic and native to the Oriental biogeographic ragion. More surveys need to be conducted in these areas to determine their exact distribution and home ranges.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

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Range Description

This species is known only from the highlands of southern Sumatra and Java, Indonesia: it occurs as far east on Java as the Ijang plateau (van Bree and Boeadi 1978, Meri et al.2007). On Sumatra, it is known from Bengkulu Province (Sody 1949), where it was found on Mt. Dempo (Lunde and Musser 2003) and recently was recorded north to Gon Kerinci (Holden 2006). ). The northern and central highlands of Sumatra have not been surveyed well enough to say whether or not it occurs there (Meiri et al. 2007). The altitudinal range of this species on Sumatra is 1,000 to 3,000 m (Lunde and Musser 2003, van Bree and Boeadi 1978, Holden 2006).
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Physical Description

Morphology

The Indonesian mountain weasel as a weasel has very specific traits that all in their genus share. Weasels have long, slender bodies with short legs. This body design allows them to enter any place in which they can stick their heads. A long slender body has costs; while their metabolic rate tends to be similar to other mammals of the same size, they tend to lose heat much faster due to their shape (Brown and Lasiewski, 1972). The Indonesian mountain weasel tends to be between 279 m and 321 m from head to the base of the tail. The tail is about 136 mm to 170 mm long (Eaton, 2009).  There is very little information specifically on the Indonesian mountain weasel, however, we know that they have reddish-brown fur and a foramen on their skull by which they can be identified. This foramen is located "in the medial part of the auditory bullae, mid-way along the anterior-posterior axis, at the point where the bullae attach to the skull" (Meiri, Duckworth, and Meijarrd, 2007).

Range mass: 295 to 340 g.

Range length: 297 to 321 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

  • Eaton, J. 2009. An Observatino of Indonesian Mountain Weasel Mustela Lutreolina at Gunung Kerinci, Sumatra, Indonesia.. Small Carnivore Conservation, 40: 27-28.
  • Meiri, S., J. Duckworth, E. Meijaard. 2007. Biogeography of Indonesian Mountain Weasel Mustela lutreolina and a newly discovered specimen. Small Carnivore Conservation, 37: 1-5.
  • Walker, E., F. Warnick, K. Lange, H. Uible, M. Davis, P. Wright. 1964. Mammals of the World Volume II. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
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Ecology

Habitat

Indonesian mountain weasels, as their names suggests, live in the tropical rainforest mountainous regions of Indonesia. However, very little is known about their preferred habitat conditions besides their preference for higher elevations. It is believed that their elevation ranges from 1,000 m to 2,200 m, but little is known of how they function at extreme elevations or if they can live outside of their range. According to the IUCN there are only 15 known specimen of the Indonesian mountain weasel, and of those only 12 have a locality. More surveys and research is needed to determine habitat range and preference.

Range elevation: 1,000 to 2,200 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest ; mountains

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is restricted to high altitudes of 1,000-2,200 m (Lunde and Musser, 2003), within which habitat use is unclear. Also, there is a recent sighting at 3,000 m, in scrub above the forest line (Holden, 2006).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Trophic Strategy

Weasels are completely carnivorous and the Indianian mountain weasel is no different. They are especially adapted to eating rodents; their agility and speed allows them to take down prey much larger than themselves. They are also very good at removing rodents from their burrows. Some species of weasels are known to stay at one prey den until they have completely eliminated all of the inhabitants.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Eats eggs)

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Associations

Weasels are pest controlers and have been known to eradicate species from their home ranges.

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Indonesian mountain weasels have no known predators, aside from humans. It is believed that due to their fierce nature, it would not be worth a predators effort to attempt to consume them. It is believed that some weasel species are eaten by foxes. While there are no foxes in Indonesia it is possible some of the other carnivores might be a threat to Indonesian mountain weasels.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

As with other weasel species Indonesian mountain weasels will communicate primarily with odors and secondarily with "clicks" or other auditory noises.

Communication Channels: chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

  • Erlinge, S., M. Sandell. 1988. Coexistence of stoat, Mustela erminea, and weasel, M. nivalis: social dominance, scent communication, and reciprocal distribution. OIKOS, 53: 242-246.
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Life Expectancy

Little is known about how long Indonesian mountain weasels live, but some suggest between 7 to 10 years of age (indonesianfauna.com, 2004). Nor do they known about the lifespan of Indonesian mountain weasels in captivity. However, other species of weasels live up to 20 years in the wild and do very well in captivity (Walker et al., 1964).

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
7 to 10 years.

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Reproduction

As a member of the badgers, otters, and weasels family, Indonesian Mountain weasels have a polygnous mating system in which the males will fight for access to a female. It is noted that these fights can be extremely vicious. Weasels are solitary creatures and the mating season is often the only time adults will interact with one another. This type of behavior is called a solitary-territorial mating system (Bright, 2000). The specifics of Indonesian mountain weasel mating habits are unknown.

Mating System: polygynous

Indonesian mountain weasels become sexually mature at about a year of age. Their breeding season is believed to be between March and May, followed by a gestation period of approximately 30 days. ndonesian mountain weasels, like other weasels, give birth to altricial young. This means that the young are born with their eyes shut and with very little fur. The pups rely solely on their mother for care. It takes about a month for pups eyes to fully open, and another month after which they will become fully weaned.

Breeding interval: The frequency of Indonesian mountain weasel breeding is unknown.

Breeding season: Indonesian mountain weasels mate from March to May.

Range number of offspring: 2 to 12.

Average gestation period: 30 days.

Average time to independence: 2 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

For weasels, care of young fall on the mother alone. Even though the young are altricial, they are fully weaned after 2 months and leave their mother. However, the litter tends to prefer to remain together until Autumn.

Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care ; pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female)

  • Bright, P. 2000. Lessons from lean beasts: conservation biology of the mustelids. Mammal Review, 30: 217-226.
  • indonesianfauna.com. 2004. "Indonesian Mountain Weasel" (On-line). Indonesian Fauna. Accessed October 01, 2012 at http://www.indonesianfauna.com/indonesianmountainweasel.php.
  • Moors, P. 1980. Sexual dimorphism in the body size of mustelids (Carnivora): the rolse of food habitas and breeding systems. OIKOS, 34: 147-158.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Indonesian mountain weasels are endangered because they are endemic to a very small area and because they are very poorly known. They are among the rarest of the weasel family and face issues with habitat fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation has a very strong correlation with declines in weasel abundance.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
DD
Data Deficient

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Duckworth, J.W., Barney, L. & Abramov, A.

Reviewer/s
Belant, J. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Data Deficient, as too little is known about its population, ecology or current threats to apply the Red List Criteria. Is therefore unclear if this species is threatened, and more survey work is required in order to have sufficient data on which to assess this species. While there is no strong reason to think that it is, the paucity of recent records despite some level of biological survey in its current range indicates a need to understand its status more clearly.

History
  • 1996
    Endangered
  • 1994
    Insufficiently Known
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
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Population

Population
Nothing is known about this species’s abundance. It is known from 15 specimens (only twelve of which have locality data) and one field sighting: nine records from Java and four from Sumatra (van Bree and Boeadi, 1978, Lunde and Musser, 2003, Holden 2006, Meiri et al. 2007).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no obvious potential major threats to this species: it is not sought for trade; it lives in Sumatra above the altitudes where general snaring and trapping of ground mammals is intense and where deforestation is heavy; natural habitat on Java in this altitudinal band is heavily fragmented but relatively stable; and the species' dependence, if any, on old-growth, extensive, or even any sort of forest is unknown (Meiri et al. 2007). Doubtless on both islands some are fall victim to non-selective hunting methods, but there is no reason to consider these numbers are large.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It was recorded from Mt. Dempo in Sumatra (part of a protected area system (MacKinnon, 1997) in 1936 (Lunde and Musser, 2003). According to Boeadi (pers. comm. 1986) this species is found in Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park (15,000 ha) near Bogor, west Java - from where there are historical specimens (van Bree and Boeadi 1978). Schreiber et al (1989) recommends "field work in the mountains of southern Sumatra and Java to locate populations of the mountain weasel and to assess their conservation status and requirements, as well as continuation of conservation efforts on Gunung Slamat in central Java being desirable." Ecology is still too poorly known to recommend conservation measures in the continuing absence of the recommended surveys.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

No specific negative effects to humans are known, but weasels are known to eat poultry. This can be a big problem for farmers in the area who use poultry as a main source of income or food.

Negative Impacts: household pest

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Indonesian mountain weasels are known to keep rodent populations in check; a common pest for humans.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Indonesian mountain weasel

The Indonesian mountain weasel (Mustela lutreolina) is a species of weasel that lives on the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia at elevations over 1,000 metres (3,280 ft). They live in mountainous, tropical, and rainforest areas. Indonesian mountain weasels have a body length of 11–12 inches and a tail length of 5–6 inches. They are reddish-brown in color.

The Indonesian mountain weasel is endangered due to hunting, fur trade, and destruction of habitat. There are no subspecies of the Indonesian mountain weasel.

References

  1. ^ Duckworth, J.W., Barney, L. & Abramov, A. (2008). Mustela lutreolina. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 21 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of data deficient
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