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Japan’s endangered animal: Tsushima marten Weasel seen at the zoo

Animal

Martes melampus is a weasel that lives only in Tsushima, Japan. It is classified into the Mustelidae Martens. It is an endemic species of Tsushima that became a subspecies because it was isolated on a remote island for a long time. Although it is designated as a national natural monument, it is an endangered species. The population is unknown because it is a completely wild weasel. Capture and hunting are prohibited due to the Japanese government’s ban on capture. It may be treated as a vermin because it may come out around the village and attack the livestock raised.

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Habitat

Currently, it only lives in Kyushu and Tsushima, Japan. There are no other locations in Honshu. In Nagasaki Prefecture, it has been designated a natural monument by the Ministry of the Environment. The Tsushima marten is a mammal belonging to the Carnivora order, Mustelidae family, and the genus Marten.

Characteristic

Compared to Hondoten, the color is lighter overall, and it is distinguished by having a black crest from the throat to the chest. The results of mitochondrial DNA analysis also show a slight genetic difference from Hondoten. It is 45 cm long, has a tail length of 19 cm, and weighs 1-1.5 kg. Hair changes seasonally, so it may look like a different creature. Summer hair is dark brown on the back and body side and tan on the abdomen, and winter hair is grayish white on the head, leaving the black parts on the mouth and nose. It is a forested animal that lives along the swamps of the broad-leaved forest belt.

Ecology

Food is rats, birds, frogs and insects. Although it looks cute, it sometimes comes to the villages and farmhouses where humans live and attacks livestock. Be careful with puppies and kittens. I usually live alone. Breeding takes place around the summer and can produce 2-4 heads. Life mainly builds nests in holes. Live by digging holes in tree hollows and cliffs.

Endangered species

Land development and deforestation are the greatest threats to this martes melampus. There is a reduction in good hardwood forests due to development, and habitat fragmentation is occurring. Illegal hunting for marten fur is also a problem. In addition, there are many deaths from traffic accidents, and there are also cases of being run over by a car and dying. As this situation became clear, the Japanese government designated it as a national natural monument in 1971. It is also designated as an endangered species. The rank is near-threatened. It is said that there are still many inhabitants in Tsushimauchi.

Breeding

Capture and hunting are prohibited due to the Japanese government’s ban on capture. Therefore, it cannot be bred except for some researchers and zoos. It’s best to watch at the zoo.

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