The Hog Badger is the world’s largest badger and is found in a large region covering Central and Southeast Asia. Also called the greater hog badger or hog-nosed badger, these mammals get their name from their characteristic hog- or pig-like snout. Unfortunately, the population of these terrestrial mustelids is decreasing mainly because of regular poaching.
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Hog Badger Scientific Classification
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Size: Head-to-body length is 55–70 cm (22–28 in) (excluding tail).
Weight: The weight might vary anything between 7 and 14 kg (15 and 31 lb).
Body: It has a stocky body entirely covered with brown hair, whereas the throat is white with a pair of black stripes on an elongated white face; the pig-like snout (nose) is pink in color.
Tail: The tail is of medium length, measuring around 12–17 cm (4.7–6.7 in).
Sexual Dimorphism: There are no visible differences between the male and the female.
The longevity of the hog badgers in the wild is yet unknown; however, in captivity, the maximum recorded lifespan is around 14 years.
Classification of Species by Distribution
Based on their ranges, the hog badgers have been classified under six subspecies:
- Greater hog badger – Arctonyx collaris collaris – found in the Eastern Himalayas;
- Northern hog badger – Arctonyx collaris albogularis – living in the southern regions of China along the northern parts to Shensi;
- Chinese hog badger – Arctonyx collaris leucolaemus – living in the northern regions of China from southern parts of Kansu to Chihli;
- Sumatran hog badger – Arctonyx collaris hoevenii – occurring in Sumatra;
- Indochinese hog badger – Arctonyx collaris dictator – that are found in southern parts of Thailand and Indochina;
- Burmese hog badger – Arctonyx collaris consul – hailing from Myanmar to Assam in India.
Hog badgers are found in a wide variety of habitats like in tropical rainforests, tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen forests, grasslands, hills, and mountains.
Nothing much is known about the natural behavior of the hog badgers in the wild. The hog badgers are primarily shy in nature and are rarely seen, though they are not much wary of humans.
These are mammals that spend mostly solitary life, and travel places by themselves and are equally active at night. They have been known to turn ferocious if threatened or attacked.
These mustelids are fossorial, living in burrows by digging holes and tunnels into the ground to create their homes, as also, to find food. They are territorial and mark their territories with their urine and secretion from the musk glands on rocks, grasses, and tree trunks.
Though they are believed to hibernate between November and early March, they have been rarely seen doing so in captivity.
Hog badgers are omnivorous, feeding a wide variety of things depending upon their range like small mammals, insects and terrestrial worms (which is thought to be their most favorite item), as well as various kinds of fruits, roots, and tubers, among plant matters.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Relatively little is known about the mating behavior of these animals. Reportedly, mating takes place in around May in the wild.
No matter when the mating takes place, the young ones are always born in around February or March, the time when there is a lavish supply of food. This means, like many other mustelids including the European badgers, weasels, and ferrets, they can delay pregnancy.
The length of the female’s gestation period is also not known. However, biologists believe that it is approximately six to eight weeks. The mother badger gives birth to two to four cubs in a single litter.
Though the life cycle of the baby hog badgers has not been well studied, they are known to mature and wean rapidly, reaching adulthood by the time they are seven to eight months old.
- The pig-like snout of the hog badger is adapted to pick up scents very effectively, helping the animal find its food at ease.
- Their characteristic snout, the incisor teeth, and the canine teeth located in their lower jaws help them dig in the ground.
- The distinct black and white facial stripes of the animal are thought to be aposematic, that is, to act as a warning signal for predators about their ability to release repelling odors from their anal glands, as also, their ferocious nature if attacked.
The primary enemies of the hog badger in the wild are dhole (Cuon alpinus), tiger (Panthera tigris), and leopard (Panthera pardus).
Considering their dramatic decline in population, the IUCN 3.1 has enlisted them under their ‘VU’ (Vulnerable) list.
- Though found in a limited part in India, it is protected in the country by the Wildlife Protection Act since 1972. It is also legally protected in Thailand.