Asian badger

Asian badger
Meles leucurus - Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology - DSC02498.JPG
Museum specimen of the Asian badger
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Meles
M. leucurus[1]
Binomial name
Meles leucurus[1]
Hodgson, 1847
Asian Badger area.png
Asian badger range

The Asian badger (Meles leucurus), also known as the sand badger, is a species of badger native to Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Korean Peninsula and Russia.


Comparative illustration of European badger (top), Asian badger (centre) and Japanese badger (bottom)

The Asian badger is mostly lighter in colour than the European badger, though some forms may closely approach the former in colour, if not darker, with smudges of ocherous and brownish highlights. The flanks are lighter than the middle of the back, and the facial stripes are usually brown rather than black. The facial stripes narrow behind the eyes and extend above the ears. The white parts of the head are usually dirtier in colour than those of the European badger. The light stripe passing along the top of the head between the two stripes is relatively short and narrow. The Asian badger is generally smaller than the European badger and has relatively longer upper molars.[3] It appears to be the smallest of the three Meles badgers despite regional size variations, with the largest-bodied populations in Siberia. Body mass typically ranges from 3.5 to 9 kg (7.7 to 19.8 lb) and length from 50 to 70 cm (20 to 28 in).[4][5] The average weight of three adult males from Sobaeksan National Park was 6 kg (13 lb).[6]


Five subspecies are recognized.[7]

Subspecies Trinomial authority Description Range Synonyms
Common sand badger Meles leucurus leucurus Hodgson, 1847
  • blanfordi (Matschie, 1907)
  • chinensis (Gray, 1868)
  • hanensis (Matschie, 1907)
  • leptorhynchus (Milne-Edwards, 1867)
  • siningensis (Matschie, 1907)
  • tsingtauensis (Matschie, 1907)
Amur badger Meles leucurus amurensis Schrenck, 1859 The darkest coloured and smallest subspecies. The facial stripes extend above the ears, and are black or blackish-brown in colour. The entire area between the stripes and cheeks are dirty-greyish brown, as opposed to white. The colour can be so dark, that the stripes are almost indistinguishable. The back is greyish-brown with silver highlights. The pelage itself is soft, but is lacking in wool. The skull is small, smooth and has weakly developed projections. It lacks first premolars. Body length is 60–70 centimetres (24–28 in).[8] Ussuri, Priamurye, Greater Khingan and Korean Peninsula melanogenys (J. A. Allen, 1913), schrenkii (Nehring, 1891)
Kazakh badger Meles leucurus arenarius Satunin, 1895 A moderately sized subspecies, being intermediate in size between Meles meles meles and M. m. canascens. Its colour is lighter and paler than its northern cousins, with less prominent facial stripes. Its pelage is coarse and bristly, and has scarce underfur. Boars grow to 70–78 centimetres (28–31 in) in body length, while sows grow to 61–70 centimetres (24–28 in). Boars weigh 7.8–8.3 kilograms (17–18 lb) in March–May, and 5.6–7 kilograms (12–15 lb) in March–June.[9] Southeastern Volga, most of Kazakhstan (excepting the northern and montane parts), the Middle Asian plains (excepting the regions occupied by Meles m. canascens and Meles m. severzovi)
Siberian badger Meles leucurus sibiricus Kastschenko, 1900 A moderately sized subspecies, being intermediate in size between Meles meles meles and M. m. canascens. The general colour tone of the back is light grey, usually with yellowish or straw coloured highlights. The facial stripes are brownish-black to tawny black. The pelage is long and soft with a dense undercoat. Boars grow to 65.7–75 centimetres (25.9–29.5 in) in body length, while sows grow to 62–69.2 centimetres (24.4–27.2 in). Boars weigh 10–13.6 kilograms (22–30 lb).[10] Siberia, including Transbaikalia and Altai, northern Kazakhstan and probably the eastern Volga
  • aberrans (Stroganov, 1962)
  • altaicus (Kastschenko, 1902)
  • enisseyensis (Petrov, 1953)
  • eversmanni (Petrov, 1953)
  • raddei (Kastschenko, 1902)
Tian Shan badger Meles leucurus tianschanensis Hoyningen-Huene, 1910 A moderately sized subspecies, with a somewhat darker pelt than M. l. arenarius and a less developed yellow sheen. The fur is longer, denser and fluffier.[9] Northern Tian Shan talassicus (Ognev, 1931)

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Asian badgers have a large range including the southern portion of Russia east of the Urals, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and Korea. The species can be found within areas of high elevation (perhaps up to 4,000 m (13,000 ft)) in the Ural Mountains, the Tian Shan mountains, and the Tibetan Plateau. The ranges of Asian and European badgers are separated in places by the Volga River. Asian badgers prefer open deciduous woodland and adjacent pastureland, but also inhabit coniferous and mixed woodlands, scrub and steppe. They are sometimes found in suburban areas.[2]


Asian badgers are legally hunted in China, Russia and Mongolia, as well as illegally within protected areas in China. Russia's established badger hunting season usually takes place from August to November.[2]

In Mongolian traditional medicine, balm made from badger fat oil is used as a remedy for variety of ailments and diseases such as pulmonary tuberculosis, pneumonia, bronchitis, stomach ulcer, inflammatory diseases of the kidney, intestinal diseases and colds.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Species Meles leucurus". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b c Abramov, A.V. (2016). "Meles leucurus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T136385A45221149. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T136385A45221149.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  3. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 1251
  4. ^ Long, C. & Killingley, C. (1983). The Badgers of the World. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas.
  5. ^ Wilson, D.; Mittermeier, R. (2009). Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
  6. ^ Lee, H. J.; Cha, J. Y.; Chung, C. U.; Kim, Y. C.; Kim, S. C.; Kwon, G. H. & Kim, J. J. (2014). "Home Range Analysis of Three Medium-Sized Mammals in Sobaeksan National Park". Journal of the Korea Society of Environmental Restoration Technology. 17 (6): 51–60. doi:10.13087/kosert.2014.17.6.51.
  7. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In 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.
  8. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 1260–1262
  9. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 1257–1258
  10. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 1256–1257