The long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) typically inhabits throughout the United States, southern Canada, and Mexico. It has evolved some 5 – 7 million years ago. The long-tailed weasel is one of the largest weasels that belongs the genus Mustela.
Long Tailed Weasel Facts
- Adult weasels grow about 300–350 mm (12–14 in) in the overall length. The tail makes up 70% of the entire body length.
- Males are slightly larger than the females.
- During daylight hours weasel’s eyes are seen all black but at night they glow in a spotlight.
- The Florida population or those living in the southwestern United States are recognized by yellowish to white markings.
- The northern population’s fur is white with some hints of yellow color in it.
- Weasels molt twice a year every year; first is from October to November and second ranges from March to April.
- The duration of each molt lasts 21 – 28 days.
Range & Habitat
- Long-tailed weasels are likely to make dens in rock piles and ground burrows. While mostly it digs its own burrow sometimes weasels rely on chipmunk holes.
Feeding Ecology & Diet
- The long-tailed weasel does not hesitate to scare off animals far greater than itself. The weasel stalks its prey and is likely to hunt small mammals such as mice and rabbits.
- Weasels prefer to consume rodents more than any other animals. The long-tailed weasel’s diet consists of chipmunks, moles, rats, shrews, squirrels, and mice. Rarely though it also eats earthworms, reptiles, bird eggs, fish, amphibians, and small birds.
- Weasels will also prey on bats from nursery colonies.
- The breeding occurs in July to August.
- A female gives birth to 5 – 8 kits after a period of 10 months. The kits are born in April to May. The gestation period depends on the availability of food (small mammals).
- Kits are born blind and averaging 3 grams in weight at birth. They are nearly the same weight as hummingbirds.
- Kits grow rather quickly in the first 21 days. They will consume meat right after they come of age. After 3 weeks of birth kits weigh 21 – 27 grams. They will open eyes when they are 35 days old. At this time, kits are vocal and active.
- Females attain maturity at 90 – 120 days while males become mature at 450 – 540 days.
- The weasel’s nest measure 22–30 cm (8.7–11.8 in) in diameter and it is lined with fur of prey and straw.