Meles anakuma (*)
Meles anakuma Temminck, 1844
Type locality: "Environs of Nagasaki et d’Awa", [Japan].
Meles meles anakuma Temminck, 1844
* Temminck, C. J. 1844. Fauna Japon., Mamm., 30: pl. 6.
The Japanese badger (Meles anakuma) is a species of carnivoran of the family Mustelidae, the weasels and their kin. It is endemic to Japan, where it is found on Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Shodoshima. Japanese badgers are smaller (average length 79 cm in males, 72 cm in females) and less sexually dimorphic than their Asian counterparts.
The absence of badgers from Hokkaido, and the presence of related M. leucurus in Korea, suggest that the ancestral badgers reached Japan from the southwest via Korea. Genetic studies indicate that there are substantial differences between Japanese and Asian badgers, which were formerly considered conspecific, and that the Japanese badgers are genetically more homogenous.
Japanese badgers are nocturnal and hibernate during the coldest months of the year. Beginning at 2 years of age, females mate and give birth to litters of two or three cubs in the spring (March-April). They mate again shortly afterwards, but delay implantation until the following February. Japanese badgers are more solitary than European badgers; they do not aggregate into social clans, and mates do not form pair bonds. During mating season, the range of a male badger overlaps with those of 2 to 3 females.
Japanese badgers are found in a variety of woodland and forest habitats.
Japanese badgers have an omnivorous diet that includes worms, beetles, berries and persimmons.
Although they remain common, their range has shrunk recently. They presently range over about 29 per cent of the country, an area that has shrunk 7 per cent over the last 25 years. Increased land development and agriculture, as well as competition from introduced raccoons are threats. Hunting is legal but has declined sharply since the 1970s.
1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kaneko, Y. & Sasaki, H. (2008) Meles anakuma In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. www.iucnredlist.org Retrieved on 17 August 2009.
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