Banded Linsangs (Prionodon linsang): Ringtails of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand

by DerdriuMarriner

A novel style jumbles spots in with stripes. It may or may not work as fashion statements and modern art. But it always works on Asia’s banded linsangs.

The mixing of stripes with spots applies to descriptions of all linsangs.
• Linsangs are mammals that call Africa or Asia home.
• They currently belong to either of two genera and one of four species.
• Scientists consider Africa's linsangs members of the genus Poiana and the species leightonii or richardsonii and Asia's linsangs occupants of the genus Prionodon and the species linsang or pardicolor.

Africa's linsangs display:
• Small spots arranged in 4 – 5 longitudinal rows across both sides of the body;
• Thick stripes just around the head and shoulders;
• Unpredictably-sized rings on the tail.

Asia's linsangs exhibit:
• Merged spots banding the upper body;
• Solitary spots decorating the lower upper-sides;
• Stripes of predictably-sized bands ringing the tail.

topography of Banded Linsang native habitats: Kinabalu Park (Malay: Taman Kinabalu) ~

Malaysia's first UNESCO Malaysia's first World Heritage Site, designated in 2000 for universal value as site of 4,500 species of flora and fauna, including 326 bird and around 100 mammal species.
cloud-dwelling Mount Kinabalu, west coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo
cloud-dwelling Mount Kinabalu, west coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

 

The word linsang comes from a Bahasa Indonesia/Malaysia word for “animal.” Its common-name purpose dates to the carnivore's taxonomic description in 1821 by Major-General Thomas Hardwicke (1755/1756 – March 3, 1835), as:

  • India- and Southeast Asia-posted British East India Company army officer, ornithologist, and zoological illustration/specimen collector, 1777 – 1823;

  • Linnaean Society fellow-elect, 1804-;

  • Royal Society fellow-elect, 1813-.

It also describes Africa's linsang-like, omnivorous oyans. But it functions as species name only for banded linsangs (Prionodon linsang), whose continental and insular Southeast Asian bio-geography embraces:

  • Bangka and Belitung Islands;

  • Borneo;

  • Indonesia (Java, Sumatra);

  • Malaysia;

  • Myanmar (Tenasserim);

  • Thailand.

The species name Prionodon pardicolor contrastingly honors Asia's differently ground-colored spotted linsangs.

 

 

Major General Thomas Hardwicke described Banded Linsang in 1821.

portrait by J. Lucas; lithograph by Louis Haghe
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology (1830-1832), Vol. I, frontispiece
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology (1830-1832), Vol. I, frontispiece

 

The ground-color of banded linsangs indeed assumes a range of yellow-browns. It becomes creamy white-grey where upper-parts merge with under-parts. Bands, spots, and stripes communicate black and black-brown contrasts. Five broad, irregular bands from merged spots darken the head, shoulders, and spine. Large striping decorates each side of the neck. Black spots in longitudinal rows embellish the flanks, the fore-limbs right down to the paws, and the rear-limbs right down to the hock. Uniform bands form into 7 – 10 dark rings on the cylindrical, long, non-prehensile (“non-grasping”) tail, whose tip typically ends darkly as opposed to the spotted linsang's white terminus. All four paws lack narrow-lined soles which nevertheless are hairy between the digits and pads.

 

 

The form and the function of the banded linsang's body convey in its entirety:

  • Agility;

  • Beauty;

  • Elegance;

  • Grace;

  • Intelligence;

  • Reticence;

  • Silence;

  • Speed.

Banded linsangs epitomize quick, quiet nimbleness with digitigrade (“on the digits,” “tiptoes”) locomotion over the ground and through the treetops. Their attractive, dense, short fur feels and looks velvet-soft. The overall impression is gracefully elegant, with:

  • Elongated, slender neck;

  • Fine, light, long, super-sensory whiskers;

  • Long, low, narrow head and skull;

  • Pointed muzzle;

  • Pronounced snout.

Alert, forward-facing, pale-colored, prominent ears and big, dark-adapted, round-pupiled eyes leave researchers and and viewers with intelligent impressions whose validity is verified in the rare instances of the banded linsang's capture and 10+ captive years in amiable, docile, loving, loyal domestication.

 

Banded Linsang, under synonym of Prionodon maculosus

R.A. Sterndale, Natural Historyof the Mammalia of India and Ceylon (1884), No. 226, p. 214
R.A. Sterndale, Natural Historyof the Mammalia of India and Ceylon (1884), No. 226, p. 214

 

Banded linsangs apparently complete silent life cycles and natural histories. Scientists encounter no anecdotal or documented instances of banded linsang vocalizations. They expect that communication employs super-acute:

  • Hearing;

  • Seeing;

  • Smelling;

  • Tasting.

They hypothesize that odors are interpreted, not released, since Asia's cat-like, scentless linsangs lack the anal scent gland of the genet-like, scent-endowed African oyan. The absence of known vocalizations indeed reinforces the essentially active-avoidance, non-violent reticence of banded linsangs despite:

  • 5 retractile claws whose sheaths defend both fore-paws and whose skin lobes protect both hind-paws;

  • Razor-sharp, shearing dentition with the upper jaw's 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 premolars, and 2 molars and the lower jaw's 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 premolars, and 4 molars.

 

Banded Linsang (Prionodon linsang), under synonym Viverra linsang:

illustration by John Curtis (September 3, 1791 – October 6, 1862) from specimen collected on Malacca, southern Malay Peninsula, by Major-General William Farquhar (February 26, 1774 – May 11, 1839)
Tab. XXIV, opp. p. 236
Tab. XXIV, opp. p. 236

 

No clear breeding season alters the banded linsang's diurnal rests and nocturnal forages. April, May, and October constitute peak months for delivering 2 – 3 furred newborns -- who weigh 1.41 ounces (40 grams) apiece and whose eyes open 20 days later -- after an 11-day estrus and unknown gestations. Parents immediately implement linsang nomadism by:

  • Building and leaving weekly-occupied leaf-and-stick spheres within palm tree root burrows or rainforest hollows 6.56+ feet (2+ meters) above-ground;

  • Emancipating weaned males.

Females realize independence with physical and sexual maturity's:

  • Head-and-body lengths: 12.20 – 17.72 inches (310 – 450 millimeters);

  • Tail lengths; 11.97 – 16.54 inches (304 – 420 millimeters);

  • Weights: 21.09 – 28.15 ounces (598 – 798 grams).

 

Squirrels are on the prey menu for Banded Linsangs: Brilliant Flying Squirrel (Petaurista petaurista nitida) under synonym of Pteromys nitidus ~

lithographic plate by English sculptor/natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (February 8, 1807 - January 27, 1894)
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology (1833 - 1834), Vol. II
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology (1833 - 1834), Vol. II

 

Foraging, reproducing, and sheltering count among the banded linsang's paramount activities. Population sustainability demands skillful savviness against such natural enemies as:

  • Predatory mammals, raptors, and reptiles;

  • Village-dwelling over-hunters.

But Asia's insectivorous linsangs do not copy the African linsang's lethal pounce-and-bite food-gathering behaviors. They instead employ belly-crawling, reptilian imitations to:

  • Ferret away bird eggs;

  • Frighten and neck-snap lizards and squirrels.

The banded linsang in fact is so efficient that the common nomenclature includes “tiger-civet.” This represents quite an achievement since the banded linsang's habitat is continental and insular Southeast Asia's hot, impenetrable, luxuriant, moist vanishing rainforests, with monthly averages of:

  • 76.96°F (24.98°C) in temperatures;

  • 9.31+ inches (236.46+ millimeters) in precipitation;

  • 63.84+ inches (1,621.57+ millimeters) in actual evapo-transpiration.

 

topography of Banded Linsang homeland: clouded-shrouded Mount Halimun Salak National Park

Tea pickers at work on Pondok Gedeh plantation with Mount Salak in background: ca. 1924 photograph by G.F.J. (Georg Friedrich Johannes) Bley (1855 - 1944)
Tea pickers at work on Pondok Gedeh plantation with Mount Salak in background: ca. 1924 photograph by G.F.J. (Georg Friedrich J...

Conclusion: Alert and sleek sustainability of Banded Linsang in extended bio-geographies with modern challenges

 

Scientists estimate the banded linsang's range at 464,100.02 square miles (1,202,013.54 square kilometers). Within the vast home and territorial distributions inherent in such extended bio-geographies, banded linsangs possibly have sufficient genetic strength to survive. Scientists indeed hypothesize that banded linsangs subsume enough geographical and physical subtleties to warrant subdivision into:

  • The nominate (first-described) Prionodon linsang linsang;

  • The subspecies P.l. fredericae (per H.J.V. Sody in 1936) and P.l. gracilis (per Thomas Horsfield [May 12, 1773 – July 24, 1859] in 1822).

Bio-geographical and genetic diversity in fact must join with protected areas, scientific research, and visitor environmentalism in sustaining banded linsangs throughout the interfaces between:

  • Globally-warmed climate change and historically-configured wildlife associations;

  • Modern-minded agro-industrialists and tradition-oriented villagers.

 

Brown fish owl (Ketupa zeylonensis leschenaultii) under common and scientific synonyms, Shielded Legged Horned Owl (Strix hardwickii): homeland overlaps with Banded Linsang in southern Burma, southwestern Thailand, and northern Malay Peninsula ~

lithographic plate by English sculptor/natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (February 8, 1807 – January 27, 1894)
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology (1833 - 1834), Vol. II
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology (1833 - 1834), Vol. II

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Banded and spotted linsangs:

Burmese linsang (L. maculosus), lower figure, and Javan linsang (Linsang gracilis), upper figure
Richard Lydekker, The Royal Natural History (1894), Vol. I, Section II, opp. p. 456
Richard Lydekker, The Royal Natural History (1894), Vol. I, Section II, opp. p. 456

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Bangka Island, off southeastern coast of Sumatra, a blend of resorts and global industries (palm oil, rubber, tin mines, white pepper) ~

one of Banded Linsang homelands
Tanjung Pesona Beach Resort and Spa, northeastern Bangka Island, Indonesia
Tanjung Pesona Beach Resort and Spa, northeastern Bangka Island, Indonesia
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Banded Linsang homeland ~ Stars and torch lights illuminating hiking trail, Kinabalu National Park (13,435 feet/4,095 meters), Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia: photo by Christian Kober

10x14 Photo Puzzle with 252 pieces. Packed in black cardboard box 5 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 1/5. Puzzle image 5x7 affixed to box top.
Photo Jigsaw Puzzle

Meteorite Explosion, Historical Artwork by Detlev Van Ravenswaay

illustration based on eyewitness reports of explosion of Quenggouk meteor over Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) Region, central Burma (now Myanmar), with multitude of fragments falling to earth like stone rain.
Meteorite Explosion, Historical Artwork

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/20/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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