Weasels are highly active predators of the Mustelidae family and are found in most parts of the world, with the exception of Antarctica, Australia and the neighboring islands. The term is used to collectively classify 10 of the existing 16 species categorized under the genus Mustela. Even stoat, polecats or ferrets belong to the same genus, but they are regarded as separate species. Broadly, weasels are divided into two species, namely the short-tailed weasel or Mustela ermine and the least weasel or Mustela rixosa. Weasels have a long, slender and sinuous body and are quite powerful for their size. A single weasel is capable of running around 274 m, while carrying a large mouse in its mouth. Besides, the animal is regarded as a fearless hunter and can easily confront animals much bigger than its own size. When threatened, weasels are known to attack humans as well, particularly when the latter come between them and their food. To know more about this unique species, read the interesting facts & amazing information given below.
Length: 12 to 45 cm (5 to 18 inch)
Weight: 3 to 7 ounce (85 to 198 g)
Lifespan: Up to 10 years (however, the smaller ones live up to 3-4 years only)
Diet: Birds, frogs, rats, rabbits, ground squirrels and pika
Range: North America, South America, Alaska, parts of Asia and Europe
Habitat: Rock slides, slopes and stream banks
Age of Sexual Maturity: 4 to 8 months
Gestation Period: 8 to 10 months
Number of Offspring: 2 to 10
Interesting & Amazing Information On Weasels
Though small in size, weasels are strong fighters and can move in a flash. They are regarded as great predators. They approach the prey as silent hunters, without making a single sound. When they are near enough, they pounce on it.
A great defense mechanism found in weasels is that they can change their coat color, particularly with a change in season. As soon as winter approaches, their brownish summer coat often turns into a fade-white shade.
Although weasels are predators, certain varieties of badgers, foxes and birds of prey are regarded as their sworn enemies.
Weasels are poisonous and in case they bite you, it becomes vital to take an antidote within 24 hours; else, the consequences might be fatal. The antidote for treating weasel bites is secreted only by monkeys.
Ferrets and minks are close relatives of weasels.
Since ancient times, the fur of weasels has been used for making parkas and other winter jackets. In fact, in western societies, the use of this fur was considered to be a badge of royalty.
To stabilize and maintain the number of weasels worldwide, restrictions have been imposed on the trading of their fur.
A major difference between stoats and weasels is that unlike stoats, the latter do not possess a black-tipped tail.
These small mammals have scent glands that release a strong smell to mark their territory and to avoid predators.
Weasels stand on its hind legs to survey the environment.
They can dig burrows effectively, owing to their long slender body.
Weasels have less fat in their body and are always susceptible to losing body heat. For this reason, these mammals need to feed at frequent intervals.
Weasels were introduced in several countries for rodent control.
Weasels can feed on animals that are 5 times their size.
These carnivorous animals are excellent swimmers and climbers.
Weasels hunt during the day and at night as well.
Weasels can consume about 28 g of food per day.