The wildlife is filled with all kinds of creatures; some are predators to other animals of higher species, while others are seen as prey.
Some of these are live closer to the human environment than other animals, and most times, due to their nature humans have various phobias and superstitious beliefs about them.
The animal we would be discussing today is the weasel, and we would talk about its lifestyle, feeding, habitation and so one.
Description of Weasel
Weasels have a slim and elongated body with a small flattish and triangular head. They have small rounded ears and large eyes with a pointy snout and long whiskers.
Their back is usually grey, brown or black and usually has a white or yellowish chin and belly.
Weasels are often regarded as one of the smallest mammalian carnivores of the genus Mustela with their short legs and elongated bodies.
The adult weasel can have a body 11 – 13 in (27 – 32 cm), with the tail adding the further making it 6.3 – 7.9 in (16 – 20 cm). Male weasels are often larger than female weasels, weighing an average of 12.0 oz (339 g), compare with 8.9 0z (251 g).
Interesting facts about weasels
Weasels are said to be an extremely effective predator carnivore. They have an active lifestyle and a very flexible reproduction system; this system helps them to take advantage of the increase of the population of their prey when this occurs.
Due to these unique traits, there are some very interesting facts about weasels.
- Collective Noun: Did you know that a group of the weasel is known as a “sneaker” a “boggle” or a confusion.
- Hypnotic dance: once they corner their prey, weasels often perform a dance which consists of twist leaps, hops and rushing around their prey. The exact function of this dance is not known, but it usually distracts their prey.
- High Metabolism: Weasels are equipped with a very high metabolism rate, and studies show that weasels need to kill and consume about a quarter to a third of their body weight every day.
- Size: weasels are generally considered to be the smallest carnivores in the world
- Delayed Implantation: Some weasels usually reproduce through delayed implantation. Although mating may occur in early summer, the fertilized egg doesn’t implant immediately in the female’s uterus but stays in her body until implanting in the next spring
Habitat of Weasel
Due to their wide diet range, weasels are found in a variety of habitat including woodlands, hedgerows, walls and long grass.
Distribution of Weasel
Weasels can be found almost worldwide, especially in Europe, North Africa, Asia, and North America.
Diet of Weasel
Weasels can be seen as extremely efficient carnivores that eat a wide range of meat sources, such as mice, lemmings, young rabbits, voles, shrews, birds, and eggs.
Weasel and Human Interaction
Weasels are seen by farmers as both friends and threat; they are excellent at keeping pests such as mice under control; however, they are considered to be pests by farmers because of their uncontrollable desire to attack and consume poultry and eggs.
Weasels have also been introduced into New Zealand where they have become a great threat to native wildlife. Now, the country plans to eradicate them by 2050.
In some locations around the world, weasels are threatened by habitat loss.
- Scientific name: Mustela
- Higher classification: Mustelids
- Lifespan: Stoat: 4 – 6 years, European polecat: 14 years
- Mass: Stoat: 260 g, European polecat: 1 – 1.5 kg, Colombian weasel: 120 – 150 g
- Length: Stoat: 19 – 32 cm, European polecat: 35 – 46 cm, Colombian weasel: 22 cm
- Gestation period: Stoat: 280 days, European polecat: 40 – 43 days
There is no such record of weasels being domesticated, although the closely-related ferret has.
Does Weasel Make a Good Pet?
There have been some cases where weasels are kept as pets; however, it should be remembered that they are non-domesticated animals, and can be quite aggressive.
If one tries to keep weasels as pets, it is advisable that they are kept outside the house. If kept indoors, weasels can be messy and destructive.
Behaviour of Weasel
The prey of weasel is usually reptiles, rodents, eggs and birds, but mostly they feed on smaller rodents or rodents their size.
Their prey is being hunted mainly by scent, and then they attack by a sudden lunge, or they strike at the back of their neck. After the kill, they use their lithe, thin muscles to stun their prey.
Weasel are solitary in nature, but in some cases, weasel have been found digging a burrow by pairing up with other weasels, this goes to say that weasels are excellent diggers
Weasels are often territorial; they often patrol an area of about 20 acres (8 hectares). The male and the female also live in separate territories, though this usually overlaps.
The weasel has a tendency to travel up to 1.2 miles (2km) per night in the hunt for prey. While they travel, they usually have different dens, where they visit at various intervals
One major characteristic of the weasel is the nature of their small head which is used for hunting prey that is hiding inside burrows.
Their prey is usually killed with a single bite at the back of the neck. Most of the time they don’t eat their food immediately, as they usually store their surplus food in caches near the entrance to their nest.
Weasels move along the ground in a series of short looping jumps; usually, they frequently stop and stand on their hind legs to do a survey of their environment.
They also possess excellent climbing skills
From the age of one to two years, weasels are already sexually matured. The female usually prepares a nest for breeding, and this nest is mostly located in old vole or mouse burrow.
A fun fact about the weasel is that their pregnancy or gestation only last for a month, and their female always raises one litter of three to six child each year, although some might raise only two litters.
A weasel baby is called “kits or kitten” and are weaned after four or five weeks
Beliefs, Superstitions, and Phobias about Weasel
Some culture like the Greeks has a firm belief that the weasel is an unhappy wife who was transformed into weasel; therefore it was a sign of bad luck to have a weasel near your home (in the Greek culture) some even considers it to be evil.
In North America, Native Americans consider weasel to be a bad omen. They say that if one should cross paths with a weasel, the person is destined for a speedy death.