Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
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
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
Habitat and Ecology
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)
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.
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.
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
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
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
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
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
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Insufficiently Known(Groombridge 1994)
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
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)
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
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 . 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.
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.
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.
Distribution and habitat
Palawan stink badgers live on the Philippine island of Palawan, and also on the neighbouring islands of Busuanga and Calauit. They live primarily in the grasslands and cultivated areas on these islands, and use local shrubs for shelter.
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. They are slow moving, and not particularly aggressive, either freezing or emitting a warning snarl when threatened.
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, and the scent is said to be strong enough to be smelled up to a mile away. 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.
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