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Ermine or Short-tailed Weasel


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Short-tailed Weasels (also known as ermine or stoat) are small, furry mammals that are excellent hunters. These solitary mammals live about 10 years in captivity.

Habitat and Range: Ermine or Short-tailed Weasels live in the Arctic tundra of North America and Europe.

Anatomy: Weasels have very short legs, a long snout, big eyes, and a long, slender body. Ermines are about 10 inches (25 cm) long, plus a tail up to 3 inches (8 cm) long; they can weigh up to 7 ounces (200 g) . Males are larger than females.

Fur: These weasels have brown to yellow-brown fur with paler fur on the belly. The tip of the tail is often black. They grow white fur in the winter, but the tip of the tail remains black. When an animal chases the weasel, it will often chase the black tail tip and miss catching the weasel.

Diet: Weasels are carnivores (meat-eaters) who eat over 40 percent of their own body weight each day. They eat small mammals (like mice, squirrels, rabbits, and hares), birds, insects, carrion (dead meat that they find), and berries. They are ferocious hunters who find prey primarily by using their keen sense of smell.

Predators: Weasels are preyed upon by owls and martens.

Classification: kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Carnivora, Family Mustelidae (weasels, ferrets, minks, skunks, otters, badgers), Genus Mustela, Species M. erminea.

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