Many artists tend to draw characters based on a generic canine, feline or rodent anatomy; regardless of what the intended species is supposed to be. In the case of mustelids, due to their misleading features in classic media and lack of overall popularity, they are extremely susceptible to hybrid-like characteristics. Below are some of the most common mistakes we tend to see in both art and animation.
1. One of the most overlooked mistakes artists tend to make when depicting mustelids is drawing them with the 4-digit, digitigrade paw structure of a canine or feline. All mustelids have plantigrade (to semi-plantigrade) paws, with 5 digits on both their forepaws and hindpaws. From our experience, artists who make it a point to draw mustelids with five digits usually apply the same amount of detail to their other key features.
2. Frequently you’ll see ferrets and weasels depicted with elongated ‘sausage-shaped’ muzzles extending twice the length of their own head, with noses similar in shape of a wine bottle’s cork. Unfortunately because of Disney caricaturing their features in classic media, too many artists who are unfamiliar with these species assume they actually look like this. Unless intentionally going for the Disney look, ferrets and weasels actually have tapered muzzles that are short in length to match their streamline skulls, with noses that are small and relatively flat in comparison.
3. Occasionally mustelids are incorrectly drawn with buck teeth. We are unsure how this mistake is made, but it’s likely due to the artist believing mustelids are rodents. Mustelids are not rodents and do not have buck teeth. Their dentition is characterized by canine teeth, sharp molars and premolars.
4. Many mustelids are indeed slinky and flexible with elongated bodies, but they are not anorexic. Despite their lankiness they are actually well-proportioned for their size, so depicting them as though they are malnourished shouldn’t be standard practice. It should also be noted that mustelids can be obese. However, this is usually only possible for those in captivity or kept as pets.