Our Beautiful World

Ermina, Mustela nivalis
Stout, Mustela erminea

Ermine , Mustela nivalis
© http://www.ecosystema.ru/

Along the wall outside our livingroom. See here also for more animals outside our home.

Ermine , Mustela nivalis

Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) at the British Wildlife Centre, Surrey, England, August 2008
Source: Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) at the British Wildlife Centre, Surrey, England

The least weasel, Mustela nivalis, is the smallest member of the Mustelidae (as well as the smallest of the Carnivora),
native to Eurasia, North America and North Africa, though it has been introduced elsewhere. It is classed as Least
Concern by the IUCN, due to its wide distribution and presumably large population. Despite its small size, the least
weasel is a fierce hunter, capable of killing a rabbit 5-10 times its own weight.

The least weasel has a thin, greatly elongated and extremely flexible body with a small, yet elongated, blunt muzzled head
which is no thicker than the neck. The eyes are large, bulging and dark coloured. The legs and tail are relatively short, the
latter constituting less than half its body length. The feet are armed with sharp, dark claws, and the soles are heavily haired.

Average body length in males is 130–260 mm, while females average 114–204 mm. The tail measures 12–87 mm in
males and 17–60 mm in females. Males weigh 36-250 grams, while females weigh 29.5-117 grams

Short-tailed Weasel, Stout, Mustela erminea

Stout, Mustela erminea

Mustela erminea from Commanster, Belgian High Ardennes (50°15'20``N,5°59'58``E)
  Source http://popgen.unimaas.nl/~jlindsey/commanster.html

The stoat, Mustela erminea is also known as the short-tailed weasel and the ermine, is a species of Mustelid native
to Eurasia and North America, distinguished from the least weasel by its larger size and longer tail with a prominent
black tip.

Its range has expanded since the late 19th century to include New Zealand, where it is held responsible for declines
in native bird populations. It is classed by the IUCN as Least Concern, due to its wide circumpolar distribution, and the fact that it does not face any significant threat to its survival. It is listed among the 100 "world's worst alien
invasive species". It might be mixed up with Ermine, Mustela nivalis, but it is smaller, and has shorter tail withour the
black tip.

Stoat (Mustela erminea); Three (wild) baby stoats playing in a garden in Suffolk. Date 10 July 2006.
Photo taken by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:BozMo attributed to his homepage at http://www.catesfamily.org.uk/

The winter fur is very dense and silky, but quite closely lying and short, while the summer fur is rougher, shorter and
sparse. In summer, the fur is sandy-brown on the back and head and a white below.

Stoat territoriality has a generally mustelid spacing pattern, with male territories encompassing smaller female
territories, which they defend from other males. The size of the territory and the ranging behaviour of its occupants
varies seasonally, depending on the abundance of food and mates.

ARKive video - Young stoats playing outside their nest
Young stoats, Mustela erminea, playing outside their nest
BBC Natural History Unit

The stoat is an opportunistic carnivore. It eats insects, rabbits; rodents such as the mouse, vole and rat; other
small mammals; birds and their eggs and young; and sometimes fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.
It is a very skillful tree climber and can descend a trunk headfirst, like a squirrel. The stoat is capable of killing
animals much larger than itself. When it is able to obtain more meat than it can eat it will engage in "surplus killing"
and often stores the extra food for later.

Weasel, Short-tailed, Mustela ermina
Photo: Hillebrand, Steve

It was introduced into New Zealand in an unsuccessful attempt to control the rabbit population
and is considered a serious pest because it eats the eggs and young of native birds.
The stoat is considered to be the prime cause of the decline and/or extinction of a number of NZ bird species.
Stoats are largely nocturnal or crepuscular but will sometimes come out during the day.

Weasel, Short-tailed, Mustela ermina
Photo: Hillebrand, Steve



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