Weasels

The classification of weasels can be very confusing, as evolution has lead to a variety of species sharing the same anatomy. The family Mustelidae is often referred to as the “weasel family”. However, this simplified terminology can be misleading in the English language, given many distinctive mustelids (such as badgers, otters, the tayra and the wolverine) are related to weasels, or in some regards ‘weasel-like’, but are not actually weasels. Some sources believe only members of the genus Mustela are regarded as “true” weasels.(1) The term “weasel” is also a common nickname given to any animal that’s just ‘slinky’ in appearance. All and all, it’s little wonder so many are confused as to just what a weasel is.

Weasels are primarily small rodent hunters, a niche that has required them to evolve long, slender bodies in order to follow their prey into burrows and seize it despite their otherwise limited stature. Some of them can, however, attack and kill prey up to ten times their size; a risky but rewarding ability when the need for protein is so great. Weasels vary in length from 173 to 217 mm (6.8 to 8.5 in), females being smaller than the males, and usually have red or brown upper coats and white bellies. Their tails may be from 34 to 52 mm (1.3 to 2.0 in) long.

The following list of species is based on similar common names, and do not necessarily reflex a valid clade.

Terminology

The word “weasel” is often spoken in a way that suggests there is only one species. Usually in British English, “weasel” is a generic common name used to refer to the least weasel. Although this term isn’t incorrect, its overuse has lead many people to assume there is only one type of weasel in existence, or that the species is somehow more ‘weasel-like’ compared to other weasels. Truth is there are numerous different species and subspecies of weasels—many of which have their own unique features, size and range, including abilities and vulnerabilities relative to their respective climates.

White winter coats

Depending on the subspecies, only three mustelids are known for changing to their white winter coats, and you will find all of them within this species list—the least weasel (M. nivalis), the long-tailed weasel (M. frenata), and the stoat (M. erminea).(2)

A family misunderstood

Classic myths and general fearmongering have made the weasel family the most misunderstood of all mustelids. The common expression weasel out of and misnomer term “weasel words” also haven’t helped their image. In addition, people frequently attribute human emotions or behaviour onto weasels, claiming they are simply “mass murderers” or “bloodthirsty” animals that kill for pleasure. Like all carnivores, weasels hunt to survive; this behaviour is hardly unusual or unique in the animal kingdom for them to be superficially defined by it. Small predators in particular live on the edge with threats around every corner, including their high metabolic rate. A constant race around the clock to stay warm and alive.(3) They have to be more intense than most to make it through the day, and unless we know the reasons for why they evolved to behave as they do, it’s easy to misinterpret their intentions. We’re not saying they don’t enjoy chasing their prey or enjoy the taste of their food, but it is not pure malice for fun.

Surplus killing

Some would say another reason weasels are thought to kill for pleasure is due to the act of surplus killing—especially in regards to chickens. Though the exact reason is inconclusive, it is possible that multiple prey is killed so the weasel may return (or store) to consume its food at another time. It is this similar evolutionary programming that has enabled other species to survive.(4) A tunnel hunter has to stay as slim as possible, which is not without costs- the high metabolic rate and limited storage of body fat will cause them to perish if they do not eat within a few hours throughout the day.(5) It is possibly the case that weasels sometimes kill more than they can eat, but it is also possible the weasel is unable to return to eat the remainder of its kill, due to the owner of the chicken coop scaring it off, or removing the killed chickens in its absence.

Common misconceptions

Despite what we may have read in William Shakespeare’s plays,(6) weasels do not suck eggs.(7) In relation, the misnomer term “weasel word” first appeared in Stewart Chaplin’s 1900 short story “Stained Glass Political Platform”, in which weasel words were described as “words that suck the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks the egg and leaves the shell”.(8) The truth is weasels (more specifically stoats) have evolved a peculiar way to consume eggs. They make a small hole at the top, turn it so it lays in a horizontal position, and lick the liquid content when it starts flowing.(9) So essentially they drain eggs, not suck them. Seeing empty eggshells left behind gave rise to the myth that weasels suck eggs; which is a bizarre notion, given weasels don’t have prominent lips to be physically capable of that.

References

  1. B. Gilbert, The Weasel (1970); C. King, Weasels and Stoats (1989).
  2. Rich Landers “A peek at animals that turn white in winter” The Spokesman-Review (Jan. 10, 2012).
  3. Brown, James H., and Robert C. Lasiewski. “Metabolism of weasels: the cost of being long and thin.” Ecology 53.5 (1972): 939-943.
  4. Kruuk, Hans. “Surplus killing by carnivores.” Journal of Zoology 166.2 (1972): 233-244.
  5. King, Carolyn M. “The advantages and disadvantages of small size to weasels, Mustela species.” Carnivore behavior, ecology, and evolution. Springer, Boston, MA, 1989. 302-334.
  6. Freinkel, Lisa Myōbun. “Doing Time: Shakespeare’s Weasel, Chao-Chou’s Dog, and the Melancholy Lyric.” The Yearbook of Comparative Literature 57.1 (2011): 213-229.
  7. King, Carolyn M., and Roger A. Powell. The natural history of weasels and stoats: ecology, behavior, and management. Oxford University Press, 2006.
  8. Chaplin, Stewart. “Stained glass political Platform.” The Century Magazine (1900): 304-308.
  9. Steve Harris from BBC Wildlife magazine “How to identify bird egg thieves”.

(1) Altai Weasel / Mountain Weasel (Mustela altaica)

Photo by Karunakar Rayker

The mountain weasel primarily lives in high-altitude regions of Asia. From head to base of tail, length of males is about 220–280 mm (8.5–11 in). Males can weigh 230–340 g (8–12 oz), while females are smaller, measuring around 220–250 mm (8.5–10 in).

DNA analyses reveal it’s the closest relative of the stoat, but it’s unknown if they can interbreed.

Appearance

A weasel that gives off a delicate impression- it’s sandy-brown on top and light yellow below, with white paws. The face appears very defined with prominent cheek bones, framed with contrasting white whisker pads and chin.

Winter coat: Changes to a darker and more contrastful shade of its summer coat rather than turning lighter.

Diet

The mountain weasel is one of the primary predators of pikas, but it will also hunt small rodents in standard weasel-fashion like voles. Other prey include muskrats, ground squirrels, rabbits, small birds, reptiles, amphibians, and the occasional insect. Is one of few mustelids that’s regarded as beneficial to farmers, for their natural control of crop damaging pests.

Conservation status: Near threatened

(2) Amazon Weasel / Tropical Weasel (Mustela africana)

Illustration by Hanna W.

The Amazon weasel, also known as the tropical weasel, is a species only found in South America. Although the full extent of their range is unknown, the Amazon weasel is found in humid areas, mainly in forests near the banks of rivers in the Amazon basin.(1) Early scientific records inaccurately described the Amazon weasel’s native range as Africa, which led to its misleading scientific name.(2) This only adds to the complex taxonomy of the mustelid family.

Appearance

Most sites that show a photograph of an Amazon weasel do not have the correct photo. In fact, we were unable to find a single website out there that had a photo of an actual Amazon weasel. For this reason we have created an illustration instead. Their fur varies from reddish to dark brown on the dorsal surface, and is pale orange-tan on the underparts. A stripe of the same colour as that on the dorsal surface runs down the centre of the chest and throat.(1) The whiskers are shorter than in any other species of weasel and the soles underneath its paws are almost bare, suggesting specific adaptations that have yet to be confirmed.

Diet

Little is known about the diet of the Amazon weasel, but it likely consumes rodents and other small mammals. They have been reported to construct burrows in the stumps of hollow trees.(1)

Size: 43–52 cm / 17–20 in (males)
Tail length: 16–21 cm / 6.3–8.3 in
Weight: 700 g / 1.5 lb (males)
Lifespan: Not reported.
Range: Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and northern Bolivia.
Conservation status: Least concern
References

  1. Emmons, Louise, and François Feer. Neotropical rainforest mammals: a field guide. No. Sirsi) i9780226207193. 1997.
  2. Ramírez-Chaves, Héctor E., Heidi Liliana Arango-Guerra, and Bruce D. Patterson. “Mustela africana (Carnivora: Mustelidae).” Mammalian Species 46.917 (2014): 110-115.

(3) Back-Striped Weasel (Mustela strigidorsa)

Photo credit unknown.

The back-striped weasel, also called the stripe-backed weasel, is a species that inhabits southeastern Asia. It is thought to live primarily in the evergreen forests in the hills and mountains, but has also been recorded in dense scrubs, secondary forests, grasslands, and farmland.(1) Like many weasels, the back-striped weasel is presumed to be diurnal and mostly solitary.

Appearance

The back-striped weasel has a very distinguishing narrow, silvery dorsal streak extending from the top of its head down to the root of its tail. The dorsal surface is dark to reddish brown in colour, while a yellowish streak runs from the chest along the abdomen. The dorsal surface can vary in shades of brown, sometimes lighter on the head, or darker parallel to the dorsal streak. Its chin and throat is pale to whitish in colour, and opens up and narrows as it moves down to its hind legs.(2)

Diet

With limited research on the back-striped weasel, little is known about their diet, but it likely consumes rodents and other small mammals like most other weasels.

Conservation

The back-striped weasel is protected in Thailand and listed as Endangered on the China Red List.(3)(4)

Size: 30–36 cm / 12–14 in (males)
Tail length: 18–20 cm / 7.1–7.9 in
Weight: 700 g / 1.5 lb (males)
Lifespan: Not reported.
Range: Southeastern Asia
Conservation status: Least concern
References

  1. Abramov, A. V., et al. “The stripe‐backed weasel Mustela strigidorsa: taxonomy, ecology, distribution and status.” Mammal Review 38.4 (2008): 247-266.
  2. Pocock, R. I. (1941). “Mustela strigidorsa Gray. The Back-striped Weasel”The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia Vol. II. Carnivora (suborders Aeluroidae (part) and Arctoidae). London: Taylor and Francis, Ltd. pp. 376–380.
  3. Roberton, S., et al. “Mustela strigidorsa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e. T14027A45201218.” (2016).
  4. Wang, S. and Xie, Y. 2004. China Species Red List. Vol. 1 Red List. Higher Education Press, Beijing, China.

(4) Colombian Weasel (Mustela felipei)

Photo by Juan Manuel de Roux

The Colombian weasel, also known as the Don Felipe’s weasel, is a very rare weasel native to northern Ecuador and far eastern Colombia. Both its scientific and alternative common name honours the mammalogist Philip “Don Felipe” Hershkovitz.(1)

Appearance

The dorsal surface and tail are blackish-brown, while the underparts are orange-buff. There is also a distinguish ventral spot on its neck that’s the same color as the dorsum. Colombian weasels are observed to have webbed paws, which suggests they are perhaps semi-aquatic.(1)(2)(3)

Diet and behaviour

Little is known about the diet of the Colombian weasel, but due to their webbed paws and occurrence in riparian habitats, they are assumed to eat fish and other aquatic organisms, in addition to terrestrial small mammals, birds and insects.(4)(5) Like other weasels, they are likely to be mainly solitary and sedentary.(6)(7)

Size: 28–38 mm / 11–14.9 in (males)
Weight: 120–150 g / 4.23–5.29 oz (males)
Lifespan: 1 to 6 years
Range: Western Colombia to northern Ecuador.
Conservation status: Vulnerable
References

  1. Izor, Robert J., and Luis de la Torre. “A new species of weasel (Mustela) from the highlands of Colombia, with comments on the evolution and distribution of South American weasels.” Journal of Mammalogy 59.1 (1978): 92-102.
  2. Bernal, E. 2004. Plan de Desarrollo Chivatá-Boyacá. Alcaldía Municipal de Chivatá. Chivata, 13: 126-128.
  3. McKelvey, K., K. Aubry, M. Schwartz. 2007. Using anecdotal occurrence data for rare or elusive species: the illusion of reality and a call for evidentiary standards.. species of Mustela, 12: 121-126.
  4. Alberico, M. “New locality record for the Colombian weasel (Mustela felipei).” Small Carnivore Conservation 10 (1994): 16-17.
  5. Eisenberg, J., K. Redford. 1999. Mammals of the Neotropics: The Central Neotropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  6. Bernal, E. 2004. Plan de Desarrollo Chivatá-Boyacá. Alcaldía Municipal de Chivatá. Chivata, 13: 126-128.
  7. Nowak, R. 2005. Walker’s Carnivores of the world. Pp. 300-355 in Mustela. Baltimore, USA and London, UK.: Johns Hopkins University Press.

(5) Egyptian Weasel (Mustela subpalmata)

Photo credit unknown.

The Egyptian weasel is a species of weasel that lives in northern Egypt.

Appearance

It’s easy to understand why the Egyptian weasel was considered a subspecies of the least weasel, given its appearance. Like the least weasel it has infantile facial features and a reddish to sandy brown dorsal colour contrasting with cream to white below. It is however more bulky, with longer limbs and the tail is also elongated with a slightly darker tip.

Conservation status: Least concern

– Source from Wikipedia. The information above needs to be edited with our own words.

(6) Indonesian Mountain Weasel (Mustela lutreolina)

Photo credit unknown.

The Indonesian mountain weasel is a species that lives on the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia at elevations over 1,000 metres (3,280 ft). They live in mountainous, tropical, and rain forest areas. Indonesian mountain weasels have a body length of 11–12 inches and a tail length of 5–6 inches.

– Source from Wikipedia. The information above needs to be edited with our own words.

Appearance

Being relatively large and bulky with an overall brown exterior and a thick tail, this weasel can easily be mistaken for an American mink or an European mink, and the few photos that exist only makes it harder to identify the species among the others. It is however lighter in build than either of those species, and has larger eyes and ears in proportion to its skull.
Furthermore, it’s darker brown in colour, with contrasting light yellow upper lip patches and chin that extends down the throat and forms a large patch that is mostly angular, but can vary a bit in shape and size between individuals. The fur is silky with a high sheen, giving it a soft look.

Benefits to humans

Conservation status: Least concern

(7) Japanese Weasel (Mustela itatsi)

Photo by Dibyendu Ash

The Japanese weasel is native to Japan where it occurs on the islands of Honshū, Kyūshū and Shikoku. It has been introduced to Hokkaidō and the Ryukyu Islands to control rodents and has also been introduced to Sakhalin island in Russia.

Appearance

It can be confused with the Siberian weasel due to its similar colour, markings, anatomy and size. It’s however a darker shade of reddish brown, has a more pronounced lighter underside with a white throat patch and a shorter tail.

Winter coat: Longer, denser and lighter, yellow-buff in colour.

Conservation status: Near threatened

– Source from Wikipedia. The information above needs to be edited with our own words.

(8) Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis)

Photo by Cecil Sanders (top), and Anatolii Vlasov (bottom)

The least weasel, common weasel, or simply weasel in the UK and much of the world, is the smallest member of the genus Mustela, and the smallest member of the order Carnivora.

Appearance

Winter coat: Same as the stoat and the long-tailed weasel. Slightly longer, very dense and white. Only certain subspecies native to colder climates undergo the moult cycle.

Lifespan: 1–2 years on average, 4–10 years at most
Conservation status: Least concern

(9) Long-Tailed Weasel / Bridled Weasel  (Mustela frenata)

Photo by Keith and Kasia (top)

The long-tailed weasel, also known as the bridled weasel or big stoat, is a species of mustelid distributed from southern Canada throughout all the United States and Mexico, southward through all of Central America and into northern South America.
The majority of the weasels are strictly solitary, with the female having the responsibility for raising and teaching the young. The roles between the sexes of the long-tailed weasel can be more equal, and the male helps watching the offspring and bringing food.

Appearance

Several species bear some resemblance to another, and the long-tailed weasel is no exception, having a ‘’look-alike cousin’’ in the stoat. Both have a black tail brush that serves the same function, both turn ermine in the North, and both overlap in size. By closer inspection, the characteristics are different in several aspects: Like the name suggests, the tail is notably longer, the ears are larger and the skull is less streamlined with a wider muzzle. When not in ermine, the long-tail’s colours and contrasting facial markings in dark brown and white can easily help distinguishing the species. Overall it’s a warm sandy-brown on top, yellow-buff to apricot below and sports white paws, but due to its wide distribution across North and South America, the markings and colour depth have an impressive variation. This is in turn is caused by the amount of moisture in an area.

Winter coat: Same as the least weasel and the stoat. Slightly longer, very dense and white. Only certain subspecies native to colder climates undergo the moult cycle. The tip of the tail always remains black.

Size: 33–42 cm / 13–16.5 in (males), 28–35.5 cm / 11–14 in (females)
Weight: 226–401 g / 8–14.6 oz (males), 130–178 g / 4.5–6 oz (females)
Range: Southern Canada, all of the United States and Mexico, Central America and northern South America.
Conservation status: Least concern

(10) Malayan Weasel / Barefooted Weasel (Mustela nudipes)

Photo credit unknown.

The Malayan weasel lives in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand: on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo and the southern half of the Malay Peninsula. Malayan weasels have a body length of 12–14 inches and a tail length of 9.4–10.2 inches.

Appearance

Perhaps one of the most stunning species in terms of colouration, with a pure white head in stark contrast to the overall warm palette, with a golden brown body, orange-buff bib (throat and chest patch) and one third of its tail pale buff to white, matching the light head. If that isn’t remarkable enough, the entire sole beneath its paws are bare, hence the species’ scientific name nudipes– ”naked feet”. The purpose of this characteristic is unknown. Furthermore, the Malayan weasel has a somewhat shaggy appearance compared to the short and glossy coat of most weasels.

Conservation status: Least concern

(11) Siberian Weasel / Kolonok / Kolinsky (Mustela sibirica)

Photo by Alpsdake

The Siberian weasel or kolonok is a medium-sized weasel native to Asia, where it is widely distributed and inhabits various forest habitats and open areas.

Appearance

With its overall orange-buff fur this species has a luxurious exterior, giving the impression of a fiery golden weasel. The face has a contrasting brown mask with a matching nose and a white chin and upper lip patches. The body shape is a harmonic combination of the typical weasel sleekness and bulk, which is further strengthened by its unusually narrow skull and strong chin.

Winter coat: Longer, denser and lighter in colour than in summer.

Human benefits

The long guard hairs from the tail is valued for their soft quality, and for this reason they have been used to make some of the most exclusive paint brushes on the market. These brushes og under the name konlinsky sable hair or simply sable, but as the case often is with fur trade terminology, it messes up the names of species that have no genetic relation whatsoever. Apart from the dark colour that goes under the same name, a sable is a species of marten, implying the brushes are made from marten hair, when in reality the material comes from an entirely different species of mustelid!

Conservation status: Least concern

(12) Stoat / Short-Tailed Weasel (Mustela erminea)

Photo by Steve Daniels (top), and Steven Hint (bottom)

The stoat, also known as the short-tailed weasel in North American English, or ermine when in its white winter coat, is native throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. They are found across Europe, Asia and North America.

Appearance

During the summer months stoats are russet in colour on the head and dorsal surface, with off-white underparts that run from the chin to along the abdomen, and have a distinguished black-tipped tail. The black brush that helps us telling the stoat apart from any other species is not only eye-catching to a human observer, it has evolved to function as a decoy to distract predators, especially birds of prey. This becomes even more efficient against in winter, when northern weasels turn ermine: Against the white background and when seen from above, the ermine will appear like a flashing, dark dot thanks to its tail, keeping the pursuer from attacking the more vital parts of its body.

Winter coat: Same as the Same as the least weasel and the long-tailed weasel. Slightly longer, very dense and white. During the winter months when temperatures drop and the nights become longer, certain subspecies of stoats native to colder climates molt into their white winter coat. The tip of the tail always remains black.(1) 

Introduction to New Zealand

Stoats are known for taking down prey more than five times their size—using their sharp teeth to bite into the necks of larger animals such as rabbits. For this skill, during the 1870s and 1880s stoats were introduced to New Zealand to control the rabbit population. This act may have proved effective for the time, but it has since only resulted in a devastating effect on the bird population today,(2) prompting the New Zealand government to take action in eradicating them in their Predator Free 2050 programme.(3) Stoats are increasingly portrayed as vicious pests that prey upon helpless birds, but it was the European colonists who introduced them to the region. This is why we must always be self-accountable and cautious about introducing a species to a new environment. We understand the dire situation to save the native birds, but it’s unfortunate that once again animals are killed to make up for human irresponsibility.

Diet

Aside from birds and rabbits, stoats prey on rodents, fish, eggs, insects, small reptiles and amphibians.(4)

Albino stoats

On rare occasions, a stoat can be born albino. The difference between an albino stoat and one that’s in ermine, is that albino stoats have pink eyes, and no black-tipped tail.(5) They would be seen in their white coats all year round; making them more vulnerable to predators when there is little to no snow about for natural camouflage.

Terminology

In English the name “ermine” is a term used to refer to the stoat’s white winter coat—a stoat is being “in ermine” while white. There are actually several animals that are refereed to as ermine when sporting a black and white colouration, such as ermine moths (Family Yponomeutidae).

The stoat is called a “short-tailed weasel” in North American English, while “stoat” is preferred by the rest of the English-speaking world; making the stoat largely the only member of the weasel family without “weasel” in its name. It is unclear however, why stoats are often excluded from weasels in British English. The term “stoats and weasels” is often used, when there’s no reason to separate stoats, since a stoat is just a species of weasel. In British English “weasel” is most often used as a generic term to refer to the least weasel. In other words, “stoats and weasels” often means “stoats and least weasels”.

Size: 25–35 cm / 10–14 in (males), 17–27 cm / 6–10 in (females)
Weight: 258–450 g / 9–15.8 oz (males), 90–180 g / 3–6.3 oz (females)
Lifespan: 1–2 years on average, 4–10 years at most.
Range: Widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and introduced to New Zealand.
Conservation status: Least concern
Recognised subspecies(6)

  1. M. e. aestiva
  2. M. e. alascensis
  3. M. e. anguinae
  4. M. e. arctica
  5. M. e. augustidens
  6. M. e. bangsi
  7. M. e. celenda
  8. M. e. cigognanii
  9. M. e. erminea
  10. M. e. fallenda
  11. M. e. ferghanae
  12. M. e. gulosa
  13. M. e. haidarum
  14. M. e. hibernica
  15. M. e. initis
  16. M. e. invicta
  17. M. e. kadiacensis
  18. M. e. kaneii
  19. M. e. karaginensis
  20. M. e. lymani
  21. M. e. martinoi
  22. M. e. minima
  23. M. e. mongolica
  24. M. e. muricus
  25. M. e. nippon
  26. M. e. ognevi
  27. M. e. olympica
  28. M. e. polaris
  29. M. e. richardsonii
  30. M. e. ricinae
  31. M. e. salva
  32. M. e. seclusa
  33. M. e. semplei
  34. M. e. stabilis
  35. M. e. streatori
  36. M. e. teberdina
  37. M. e. tobolica

References

  1. Harris, S., and D. W. Yalden. “Mammals of the British Isles, 4th edn (Southampton: Mammal Society).” (2008). p. 457
  2. King, Carolyn Immigrant killers: introduced predators and the conservation of birds in New Zealand. Oxford University Press, 1984.
  3. Linklater, Wayne, and Jamie Steer. “Predator Free 2050: A flawed conservation policy displaces higher priorities and better, evidence‐based alternatives.” Conservation Letters 11.6 (2018): e12593.
  4. Heptner, V. G., and A. A. Sludskii. “Mammals of the Soviet Union. Vol. II, part 1b, Carnivores (Mustelidae and Procyonidae).” Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Libraries and National Science Foundation (2002). p. 1018
  5. Fairley, J. S. “New data on the Irish stoat.” The Irish Naturalists’ Journal (1971): 49-57.
  6. Wozencraft, W. C., D. E. Wilson, and D. M. Reeder. “Mammal species of the world. A taxonomic and geographic reference.” Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington & London (2005).

(13) Yellow-Bellied Weasel  (Mustela kathiah)

Photo by Jitendra Bhatia

The yellow-bellied weasel lives in the pine forests of Bhutan, Burma, China, India, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.(1)

Appearance

The species is named for its deep yellow-colored underbelly, while the rest of its pelt is dark brown. The upper lip, chin and throat are a lighter yellow-white colour.(2)

Diet

Yellow-bellied weasels prefer to consume mice, rats, voles and other small mammals. They will also prey on birds.(3)(4)

Benefits to humans

The Nepalese have been known to keep yellow-bellied weasels as pets to manage rodent populations in their homes. It is also reported that they have even been trained to attack geese, goats, and sheep for sport.(2)(4)(5)

Size: 250–270 mm / 9.84–10.63 in (males)
Weight: 1.56 kg / 3.44 lb (males)
Lifespan: Not reported.
Range: Central and eastern Asia.
Conservation status: Least concern
References

  1. “Yellow-bellied weasel”Thai National Parks.
  2. Hussain, S. A. “Mustelids, viverrids and herpestids of India: species profile and conservation status.” ENVIS Bulletin 2.2 (1999): 1-38.
  3. Nowak, J. L., and John L. Paradiso. “Walker’s mammals of the world.” JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSTY PRESS, BALTIMORE(USA). 1983. (1983).
  4. Jha, A. “Status of the weasel family in Sikkim.” Tigerpaper (FAO) (1999).
  5. Sterndale, Robert Armitage. Natural history of the Mammalia of India and Ceylon. Thacker, Spink, 1884.


Although the following are called ‘weasels’, they are not closely related to the ‘true’ weasel species above.

(14) African Striped Weasel (Poecilogale albinucha)

Photo by Devonpike

The African striped weasel is native to sub-Saharan Africa, and is one of the smallest carnivores on the continent. It is black and white (or yellowish) in colour and closely resembles a skunk. They have a body length of around 300 mm (11 inches), and weight between 250-350 grams (9-12 ounces).  Males are slightly larger the females.

Their diet consists of rodents, young birds, reptiles, and insects on occasion.

Appearance

Conservation status: Least concern

(15) Patagonian Weasel (Lyncodon patagonicus)

Photo credit unknown.

The Patagonian weasel is the only member of the genus Lyncodon,(1) and is one of the least known mustelids in South America. Very little is known about this species, but it can be found in both southern Argentina and southeastern Chile. It inhabits herbaceous and shrub steppes in arid and semiarid areas.(2)(3)(4)(5)

Similar to the regional greater grison and tayra, the Patagonian weasel has been reported to be kept as a trained pet by some locals to hunt and trap small terrestrial animals; mainly rodents.(6)

Appearance

Size: 30–35 cm / 12–14 in (males)
Weight: 225 g / 7,93 oz (males)
Lifespan: Not reported.
Range: Southern Argentina and southeastern Chile.
Conservation status: Least concern
References

  1. Wilson, Don E., and DeeAnn M. Reeder, eds. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Vol. 1. JHU Press, 2005.
  2. Larivière, S., and A. P. Jennings. “Mustelidae (weasels and relatives).” Handbook of the mammals of the world 1 (2009): 564-656.
  3. Osgood, Wilfred Hudson. The mammals of Chile. Field Museum of Natural History, 1943.
  4. Prevosti, F. J., and U. F. J. Pardiñas. “Variaciones corológicas de Lyncodon patagonicus (Carnivora, Mustelidae) durante el Cuaternario.” Mastozoología Neotropical 8.1 (2001): 21-39.
  5. Schiaffini, Mauro I., et al. “Distribution of Lyncodon patagonicus (Carnivora, Mustelidae): changes from the Last Glacial Maximum to the present.” Journal of Mammalogy 94.2 (2013): 339-350.
  6. Nowak, Ronald M., and Ernest Pillsbury Walker. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Vol. 1. JHU press, 1999.

American Mink | Badgers | Ferret-Badgers | Ferrets & Polecats | Fisher | Grisons | Martens | Otters | Tayra | Weasels | Wolverine