Back-striped weasel

Back-striped weasel
A 19th century illustration of Mustela strigidorsa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Mustela
Species: M. strigidorsa
Binomial name
Mustela strigidorsa[2]
Gray, 1853
Back-striped weasel range

The back-striped weasel (Mustela strigidorsa), also called the stripe-backed weasel, is a weasel widely distributed in Southeastern Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List in view of its presumed large population, occurrence in a number of protected areas, apparent tolerance to some degree of habitat modification and hunting pressure.[1]


The back-striped weasel is distinguished from all other Mustela species by the presence of a narrow, silvery dorsal streak extending from the occiput almost to the root of the tail, with a corresponding yellowish ventral streak from the chest along the abdomen. The general colour of the dorsal surface varies from deep to paler chocolate brown, sometimes a little paler on the head and usually slightly darkened along the side of the dorsal streak. The tail and limbs are of the same hue as the back. The upper lip from the rhinarium, the chin and the throat up to the level of the ears are pale varying from whitish to ochreous. On the hind throat and fore chest, the pale hue gradually narrows in extent, and is quite narrow between the forelegs, where it passes into the ventral streak, which expands on the inguinal region between thighs. The pads of the feet are well developed, the plantar ads being four-lobed, with the area around them entirely naked.[3]

The bushy tail is rather long, being more than half the length of the head and body. The length of head and body of males is 30–36 cm (12–14 in), while the tail length is 18–20 cm (7.1–7.9 in).[4] A live-captured juvenile male was estimated to weigh only 700 g (1.5 lb).[5]

Distribution and habitat

The occurrence of the stripe-backed weasel has been confirmed from scattered localities in and around northeastern India, northern and central Myanmar, southern China, northern Thailand, northern and central Laos and Vietnam at an altitude range from sea level to 2,500 m (8,200 ft).[4] In India, it has been recorded from Dampa in 1994, and in Namdapha National Park.[6]

Ecology and behavior

Little has been recorded of this weasel's habitats and habits. It has been found in a wide variety of habitats, and it is not yet possible to define its habitat needs. Specimens collected came from dense hill jungle, hill evergreen forest, disturbed evergreen forest, lower montane evergreen forest and lowland evergreen forest. Most field sightings were in daylight.[4]

In the Naga Hills, one was seen fighting with a large bandicoot rat.[3]


  1. 1 2 Roberton, S.; Duckworth, J. W.; Timmins, R.J.; Abramov, A.; Chutipong, W.; Choudhury, A.; Willcox, D.H.A. & Dinets, V. (2008). "Mustela strigidorsa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  2. Grubb, P. (16 November 2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  3. 1 2 Pocock, R. I. (1941). The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia Vol. II. Carnivora (suborders Aeluroidae (part) and Arctoidae). Taylor and Francis, Ltd., London.
  4. 1 2 3 Abramov, A. V., Duckworth, J. W., Wang, Y. and Roberton, S. I. (2008). The stripe-backed weasel Mustela strigidorsa: taxonomy, ecology, distribution and status. Mammal Review 48: 247–266.
  5. Grassman, L. I., Kreetiyutanont, K. and Tewes, M. E. (2002). The Back-striped weasel Mustela strigidorsa Gray, 1853 in northeastern Thailand. Small Carnivore Conservation 26: 2.
  6. Datta, A. (1999). Small Carnivores in two Protected Areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 96: 399–404.
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