Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Active by both day and night, the Palawan stink badger moves with a somewhat cumbersome walk (2), intermittently lowering its head to the ground as if smelling for the correct direction (4). The Palawan stink badger has a number of lines of defence. It may turn its hind parts towards the threatening animal, approach to a suitable distance and then squirt a jet of foul-smelling, yellowish fluid from its anal glands. At other times, the Palawan stink badger may 'play dead', before ejecting the stinking secretion over the unsuspecting intruder (2). The putrid stench of the secretion does not dissipate for some time (4). Like the other stink badger species, the Palawan stink badger probably rests in burrows, either dug by itself or one excavated by a porcupine (2). While the diet of stink badgers is not clear, it is thought that they feed mainly on insects that are encountered as they walk along the ground or amongst the undergrowth. Captive stink badgers have fed on worms, insects and the entrails of chickens (2).
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Description

This peculiar-looking mammal has an elongated, mobile snout that looks like that of a pig (3) (4), but a well-furred body and clawed, stout forelimbs that look more like that of a badger (3). The soft fur on the back of the Palawan stink badger is brown to black, peppered with a few silver or white hairs, and the fur on the underside is brown (3). It has a pointed face, small ears and eyes, and well-developed anal scent glands (3), which, as its name suggests, secrete a foul-smelling fluid (4). The Palawan stink badger is one of only two stink badgers in existence, (animals belonging to the genus Mydaus), the other species being the Sunda stink badger (Mydaus javanensis) (2).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to the Palawan Island Group, situated between Borneo and the Philippines (Widmann and Widmann, 2004). Since 165,000 years ago, due to rising sea levels, the land connection between the Borneo population and the Palawan population was disrupted (Widmann and Widmann, 2004). This species is found on Palawan Island, Busuanga, and Calauit, and is not found on some of the smaller outlying coral islands like Rasa and Malinau, and also not on the larger land-bridge island of Dumaran (Widmann and Widmann, 2004). Corbet and Hill (1992) also list the species as occurring on Iloc island although some experts doubt this.
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Geographic Range

Mydaus marchei is restricted to only 2 of the Philippine Islands. It is found on Palawan (hence one of its common names )and Busuanga, both located north and east of Borneo. (Nowak, 1999)

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

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Range

The Palawan stink badger occurs in the Palawan and Calamian Islands, Philippines (2).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Palawan stink badgers have many of the same fossorial adaptations as other members of its family (Mustelidae): short, muscular limbs and forepaws equipped with long claws. It is small and stocky with a short tail and pointed snout. Its fur is dark brown overall, with a light yellow patch on the top of the head that fades down to the shoulders in a stripe. There is evidence that paler brown morphs of M. marchei may also occur.

It does not appear that Palawan stink badgers are sexually dimorphic. These animals are from 320 to 460 mm in length, and average 2.5 kg.(Nowak, 1999)

Average mass: 2.5 kg.

Range length: 320 to 460 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is found in lowland forests, primary and secondary, disturbed habitat, including mixed grassland and second-growth forest (Hoogstraal 1951, Rabor 1986, Heaney et al. 1998). The species can also be found in urban areas (GMA Philippines 2006). Little is known about the ecology of this species, though it is known to be found in a wide variety of habitats (Widmann and Widmann, 2004). "It has been recorded from lowland primary and secondary forest, in shrub- and grasslands, freshwater swamp forest, and even within settlements (Widmann and Widmann, 2004)." Dogs and cats do not seem to bother this species due to its potential to excrete a nauseating chemical from its anal glands (Widmann and Widmann, 2004). The main diet of this species consists of worms and soil arhtropods, requiring areas with soft soil for foraging (grasslands typically have extensive root systems which make digging difficult, and it is seen along small streams during the dry season) (Widmann and Widmann, 2004). This species is not restricted to primary forest, it seems that relatively high population densities can occur in secondary forests and shrublands (Widmann and Widmann, 2004), and it is even known to thrive in cultivated areas (Grimwood, 1976).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The preferred habitat of Palawan stink badgers appears to be cultivated areas and grassland thickets. These habitats occur on the western and eastern portions of the island of Palawan. No other information regarding typical stink badger habitat is currently available. (Nowak, 1999)

Habitat Regions: tropical

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

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Grassland thickets, cultivated areas (2), as well as forest, are all suitable habitats for the Palawan stink badger. It is often found close to rivers and creeks, where it is seen among vegetation on the banks (4).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Little is known of the feeding habits of M. marchei. It is believed to feed mainly on invertebrates, especially earthworms and insects, which it reaches by digging with its long claws. Stink badgers may consume plant material as well. (Nowak,1999)

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Vermivore)

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

It is difficult to speculate on the role this animals plays in local ecosystems because so little is known about its lifestyle and dietary habits. It likely plays some role in regulating populations of the invertebrates upon which it feeds. This species may aid in aeration of the soil through its foraging behavior, which almost certainly entails rooting and some digging.

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Predation

As the common name suggests, Palawan stink badgers have the ability to secrete a pungent-smelling, oily fluid. The fluid is squirted from anal glands, much like skunks. The Indonesian stink badger (M. javanensis) has an extremely harsh secretion that is described as "nauseating" and is greenish in color. In comparison, the yellowish secretion of M. marchei is relatively mild.

The use of these anal glands seems to be a secondary line of defense. When first threatened, Palawan stink badgers will "play dead" and even allow themselves to be picked up and moved. (Nowak 1999; Neal and Cheeseman 1996)

As is the case with many mustelids bearing white stripes and other markings, the pelage coloration may be aposematic--a warning to other animals to leave this creature alone.

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Mydaus marchei is prey of:
Homo sapiens

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

Mydaus marchei preys on:
Annelida
Arthropoda
Insecta

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Most badgers have a highly developed sense of smell, and Palawan stink badgers are no exception. M. marchei uses the secretions from its anal glands to leave scent marks on the surrounding environment. These marks probably serve as reservoirs of information for conspecifics and help define territories. (Nowak, 1999)

Communication Channels: chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

No studies regarding the lifespan of either species of stink badger have been conducted. M. meles and A. collaris have lived in captivity 16 and 13 years, respectively. (Nowak, 1999)

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Reproduction

The mating system and behavior of M. marchei is not known.

No research on reproductive habits has been conducted for either M. marchei or M. javanensis. Other badgers (Meles meles and Arctonyx collaris) breed annually. They produce litters of two to six young after implantation, pregnancy lasts no more than eight weeks. However, both M. meles and A. collaris can undergo a period of delayed implantation and arrested embryonic development lasting up to 10 months, giving an overall pregnancy length nearing a year (Nowak, 1999)

Breeding season: The breeding season of this species is unknown.

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

Details of parental care in this species have not been reported. However, in M. meles and A. collaris~, females provide care for the young in dens or burrows. Lactation may last up to four months, and the period of maternal care may extend beyond this period as the young learn foraging behavior from their mother. No male parental care has been reported in badgers. (Nowak, 1999)

Parental Investment: female parental care

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Tabaranza, B., Ruedas L., Widmann, P. & Esselstyn, J.

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

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Least Concern because of its presumed large populations, tolerance to land-use change and human encroachment, presence in a number of protected areas and the ability to persist in degraded and even developed areas.

History
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1994
    Insufficiently Known
    (Groombridge 1994)
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Although the Palawan stink badger was described as "surprisingly common" in the 1970's, it is now considered a vulnerable species by the IUCN . It is unclear whether loss of habitat is adversely affecting M. marchei populations, but as an endemic species on only two islands with restricted habitat, its conservation is definitely a concern. There does not appear to be any Philippine law protecting the badger, nor is there any conservation work concerning this species being conducted at this time. (Neal and Cheeseman, 1996)

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Population

Population
The species is geographically restricted and locally moderately common to uncommon in secondary and primary lowland forest (Heaney et al. 1998). Since then it has been reported to be widespread and common in forest, second growth, and agricultural areas on Palawan Island (Kruuk 2000, Esselstyn et al. 2004). It is common in the lowlands, up to at least 300 m (Widmann and Widmann, 2004).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
It is rarely hunted by native people, due to its ability to excrete a pungent smell when attacked (Widmann and Widmann, 2004). Although it probably has not suffered from conversion of primary to secondary forest or shrubland, further alteration to grassland or permanent agriculture may pose a threat to this species (Widmann and Widmann, 2004). Car traffic may also pose a threat to this species (Widmann and Widmann, 2004). It is not known if diseases from domestic animals affect it (Widmann and Widmann, 2004)
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The Palawan stink badger is threatened by the loss of its habitat, as humans encroach on its already restricted distribution (1) (2). Hunting may also pose a threat; some local people eat the flesh of stink badgers, provided the scent glands are removed immediately after the animal has been killed, or sometimes, shavings of the stink badger's skin mixed with water is drunk in the belief it is a cure for fever or rheumatism (2).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no local laws protecting this species.
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Conservation

There are currently no conservation measures known to be in place for this vulnerable species.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The secretion from the anal glands of M. marchei probably causes mild irritation when it contacts human skin. Otherwise, there are no known reports of adverse interactions between Palawan stink badgers and humans. (Nowak, 1999; Neal and Cheeseman, 1996)

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The island of Palawan is well-known for its wide variety of flora and fauna. Ecotourists may be attracted by endemic species such as Palawan stink badgers

Local peoples have been known to use the stink badger as an occasional food source.

(Neal and Cheeseman, 1996)

Positive Impacts: food ; ecotourism

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Wikipedia

Palawan stink badger

The Palawan stink badger (Mydaus marchei), or pantot, is a carnivoran of the western Philippines named for its resemblance to badgers, its powerful smell, and the largest island to which it is native, Palawan. Like all stink badgers, the Palawan stink badger was once thought to share a more recent common ancestor with badgers than with skunks. Recent genetic evidence, however, has led to their re-classification as one of the Mephitidae, the skunk family of mammals .[2] It is the size of a large skunk or small badger, and uses its badger-like body to dig by night for invertebrates in open areas near patches of brush. While it lacks the whitish dorsal patches typical of its closest relatives, predators and hunters generally avoid the powerful noxious chemicals it can spray from the specialized anal glands characteristic of mephitids.

Description[edit]

Although smaller than true badgers, the Palawan stink badger is one of the larger members of the skunk family, the Mephitidae. Adults measure 32 to 46 cm (13 to 18 in) in length, about the same size as the striped skunk native to North America, and weigh anything from 0.85 to 2.5 kg (1.9 to 5.5 lb). In physical appearance, however, they more closely resemble badgers than skunks. They have a pointed snout with a mobile nose, and a stocky body with short and powerful limbs bearing sharply recurved claws. The tail is very short in comparison to the body, measuring only 1.5 to 4.5 cm (0.59 to 1.77 in), and lacking the bushy fur of many skunks. The ears are almost invisible, with only vestigial pinnae, and the eyes are also relatively small.[3]

The fur is dark brown to black over most of the body, fading to a more brownish colour on the underparts. There are also scattered white hairs across the back and over the forehead, but not the white stripe and head-patch found on the closely related Sunda stink badger. Compared with its sister species, the Palawan stink badger is also slightly smaller, with larger teeth and longer fur. Females have six teats.[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Palawan stink badgers live on the Philippine island of Palawan, and also on the neighbouring islands of Busuanga and Calauit.[1] They live primarily in the grasslands and cultivated areas on these islands, and use local shrubs for shelter.[4]

Biology[edit]

Palawan stink badgers are nocturnal, and feed mainly on invertebrates, such as freshwater crabs and small insects, which they dig out of the ground with their long claws. They are good diggers, and may spend the day in excavated dens. They may travel up to 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) in search of food, and are reported to mark their territory with scent.[4] They are slow moving, and not particularly aggressive, either freezing or emitting a warning snarl when threatened.[5]

Like skunks, Palawan stink badgers possess anal scent glands that emit a pungent yellowish liquid. They are able to spray the liquid up to a metre,[5] and the scent is said to be strong enough to be smelled up to a mile away.[4] The stink badgers rely almost entirely on this powerful odour for their defence, and are among the few wild animals not eaten by the local farmers.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tabaranza, B., Ruedas L., Widmann, P. & Esselstyn, J. (2008). Mydaus marchei. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  2. ^ Dragoo, J.W. & Honeycutt, R.L. (1997). "Systematics of mustelid-like carnivores". Journal of Mammalogy 78 (2): 426–443. doi:10.2307/1382896. 
  3. ^ a b Hwang, Y.T. & Larivière, S. (2004). "Mydaus marchei". Mammalian Species: Number 757: pp. 1–3. doi:10.1644/757. 
  4. ^ a b c d Kruuk, H. (2000). "Note on status and foraging of the pantot or Palawan stink-badger, Mydaus marchei". Small Carnivore Conservation Newsletter and Journal of the IUCN/SSC Mustelid, Viverrid, and Procyonid Specialist Group 22: 11–12. 
  5. ^ a b Grimwood, I. (1976). "The Palawan stink badger". Oryx 13 (3): 297. doi:10.1017/S0030605300013776. 
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