Yellow-bellied Weasel, Mishmi Hills, Arunachal Pradesh

by Sachin Rai
Sachin Rai

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

The yellow-bellied Weasel (Mustela kathiah) is a rarely seen 'small carnivore', and is known in India only from a handful of records. Little is known about its behaviour. It is said to be a  nocturnal animal that feeds mainly on rodents.

We found this huge rodent lying on the road, dying. We stopped to check what it was. We assumed that a biker who was going ahead had knocked it down, but weren’t sure. As we were discussing this, we saw a tiny animal pop out from a nullah, which was covered by dense vegetation next to the road. It immediately disappeared into the shrubs.

We initially mistook it to be a young Yellow-throated Marten. But then, out it popped again and rushed towards the rodent, smelt it and ran back. Within half a minute it came out again and swiftly dragged away the rodent, which was visibly larger than it. Only then did we realise that it was a Yellow-bellied Weasel.

The yellow-bellied Weasel (Mustela kathiah) is a rarely seen ‘small carnivore’ and is known in India only from a handful of records. Little is known about its behaviour. It is supposed to be a nocturnal animal that feeds mainly on rodents. It has a relatively wide Asian range, occurring from northern India, east through the Himalaya, much of southern China, and northern South-east Asia (Corbet & Hill 1992). A hill-dwelling species, it is found between 1,000 m and 2,000 m elevation; in winter it may come down to lower than 1,000 m (Choudhury 1997, 1999).

Much of the Mishmi Hills are part of the Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary situated in Lower Dibang Valley district, and span altitudes ranging from 400 m to 3568 m above sea level. The Ashupani, Deopani, Jowe, Enjopani and Diphu are the main perennial streams flowing through the sanctuary. All the streams flow into the Dibang River, which is one of the main tributaries of Brahmaputra.The Dibang Valley district is named after the Dibang River — one of the key tributaries of the Brahmaputra River.



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