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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 9:29 EDT

Japanese Badger, Meles anakuma

The Japanese badger (Meles anakuma) is native to Japan with a range that includes Shodoshima, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. It prefers a habitat in many areas including forests and woodlands.  It was once thought to be the same species as the Asian badger, but genetic studies have shown this to be untrue.

The Japanese badger has a slight sexual dimorphism, with males growing larger than females. Males can reach an average body length of thirty-one inches, while females are slightly smaller reaching an average length of twenty-eight inches. The average tail length for both males and females is between 5.5 and 7.9 inches, and a weight between 8.8 to 18 pounds. The fur on the upper body is long and grey brown in color, while the fur on the underbelly is shorter and black in color. Like the Asian badger and European badger, the Japanese badger bares stripes along its eyes, although these are much lighter in color.

The Japanese badger is nocturnal and typically solitary in nature, unlike the European badger. During the breeding season, which occurs in late spring, the home ranges of males will overlap the home ranges of two or three females. After delaying pregnancy until mid-February, a litter between two and three cubs is born between the months of March and April. Females reach sexual maturity at two years of age. The diet of this species consists of beetles, worms, persimmons, and berries.

The Japanese badger is common throughout its large range, but this range is decreasing. The main threats to this species are habitat destruction due to human encroachment and competition with introduced species like raccoons. Although hunting is legal, it has decreased rapidly since the 1970’s. The Japanese badger appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Japanese badger at Inokashira Park Zoo (Main park), Tokyo, on Sat 20 Jun 2009. Nzrst1jx/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Japanese Badger Meles anakuma