Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to Japan on Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, Sado, Oki Islands, Izu-Oshima, Awaji, Shoudo, Iki, Goto Islands, Yaku and Tane, and introduced to Hokkaido in the 1880s (Inukai 1934). It was introduced for control of rats on about 50 islands, including Sakhlain, Rishiri, Rebun, Izu Islands (Miyake, Hachijo, Aogashima), Aoshima (Nagasaki Prefecture), Kuchino, Nakano, Suwanose, Hira, Akuseki, Kikai, Okinoerabu, Yoron (Kagoshima Prefecture), Zamami, Aka, Minami-Daito, Kita-Daito, Irabu, Iriomote, Hateruma (Okinawa Prefecture) (Shiraishi 1982). It is naturalized on some islands (Abe, 2005). It is found in most elevation zones, but mainly at lower elevations (Sasaki pers. comm. 2006).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in grasslands, forests, villages, and suburbs, but not in big cities (Sasaki pers. comm. 2006). Rodents, insects, amphibians and reptiles make up the main part of its diet (Sasaki pers. comm. 2006). It shows extreme sexual dimorphism (male:450 g, female:150 g ) (Sasaki pers. comm. 2006). It is found in most habitats across Japan.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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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
Abramov, A. & Wozencraft, C.

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, although there is interspecific competition with introduced populations of Mustela sibirica this species is widespread geographically in Japan and is not thought to be declining at a rate to qualify for a threat category.

History
  • 2003
    Not Evaluated
    (IUCN 2003)
  • 2003
    Not Evaluated
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Population

Population
This species is common.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
It does not tolerate urbanization (Sasaki pers. comm. 2006). In western Japan, the Japanese Weasel is being driven to marginal montane habitats by competition with the introduced Siberian Weasel (Mustela sibirica) (Abe, 2005).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Females of this species are protected from hunting by law (Sasaki pers. comm. 2006). It is ranked as a near threatened species in the Red List of nine prefectures in the western Japan (Sasaki pers. comm. 2006).
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Wikipedia

Japanese weasel

The Japanese weasel (Mustela itatsi) is a carnivorous mammal belonging to the genus Mustela in the family Mustelidae. It is native to Japan where it occurs on the islands of Honshū, Kyūshū and Shikoku.[2] It has been introduced to Hokkaidō and the Ryukyu Islands to control rodents and has also been introduced to Sakhalin island in Russia.[3][4]

It is often classified as a subspecies of the Siberian weasel (M. sibirica). The two species are very similar in appearance but differ in the ratio of tail length to head and body length.[2] There are also genetic differences which suggest that the two diverged around 1.6-1.7 million years ago.[2] Their ranges now overlap in western Japan where the Siberian weasel has been introduced.[2]

Adult males of the Japanese weasel can reach 35 cm (14 in) in body length with a tail length of up to 17 cm (6.7 in).[3] Females are smaller. The fur is orange-brown with darker markings on the head. The species typically occurs in mountainous or forested areas near water.[3] Its diet includes mice, frogs, reptiles, insects and crayfish.[3][5]

References

  1. ^ Abramov, A. & Wozencraft, C. (2008). Mustela itatsi. 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 least concern
  2. ^ a b c d Masuda, Ryuichi & Michihiro C. Yoshida (1994) "Nucleotide sequence variation in Cytochrome b genes in three species of weasels Mustela itatsi, Mustela sibirica and Mustela nivalis, detected by improved PCR product-direct sequencing technique", Journal of the Mammalogical Society of Japan, 19 (1): 33-43.
  3. ^ a b c d Kodansha (1993) Japan: an illustrated encyclopedia, Kodansha, Tokyo.
  4. ^ Wilson, Don E. & DeeAnn M. Reeder (eds.) (2005) Mustela itatsi, Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition, Johns Hopkins University Press.
  5. ^ Sekiguchi Keishi, Ogura Go, Sasaki Takeshi, Nagayama Yasuhiko, Tsuha Kojun, Kawashima Yoshitsugu (2002) "Food habits of introduced Japanese weasels (Mustela itatsi) and impacts on native species on Zamami Island", Mammalian Science, 85:153-160. [Abstract]
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