Mustela erminea Linnaeus, 1758, Europe and Asia. OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Stoat, short-tailed weasel; French: Belette a queue courte, hermine; German: Wiesel, Hermelin; Spanish: Armiño, mostela.
Body length 6-10 in (15-25 cm), tail 2-4 in (3-10 cm), weight 0.3-0.8 lb (125-350 g). Long, tubular-shaped body with short limbs. Pelage brown during summer, white during winter, always with a black-tipped tail.
The ermine has the greatest distribution of all weasels. It occurs across Europe, Ireland, parts of Asia, into Japan, northern India, Algeria, Mongolia, on Greenland, and across most of North America, and was introduced in New Zealand.
Inhabits farmland, forests, marshes, steppes, river valleys, even human settlements of North America and Europe.
Specialist on mice, weasels often visit rodent burrows when hunting. Active throughout day and night, ermines are solitary and hunt and hide beneath roots, rock crevices, rodent burrows, wood piles, around old barns and buildings—anywhere small rodents may occur. Prey is detected by smell, hearing, or vision, and most are killed by a bite at the back of the neck. Ermines are good climbers and may use trees to rest, search for food, or escape predators.
Mostly rodents, especially mice, voles, and lemmings. On occasion, may kill ground squirrels, rabbits, birds and bird eggs, and insects. Surplus killing may occur, and ermines cache extra food for later use.
Promiscuous. Mating occurs in summer, and implantation is delayed nine to 10 months. Total gestation is 280 days, and litter size is typically four to eight.
Harvested as a furbearer in Canada and United States. The winter coat of ermine has been used for centuries as an article of clothing. Royalty traditionally wore white ermine capes, with the black tail tips sewed on, during festive occasions.
I Eira barbara I Mustela erminea
Around 1885, the stoat or ermine was introduced into New Zealand (from England) to control the expanding rabbit population and the results were disastrous. Stoats depredate local birds and their eggs, and efforts to eradicate stoats require large sums of money. ♦
Mustela vison Schreber, 1777, eastern Canada. OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Vison américain; German: Amerikanischer Nerz; Spanish: Vison.
Body length 12-20 in (30-50 cm), tail 6-8 in (16-20 cm), weight 1.7-4.0 lb (0.8-1.8 kg). Mink have a long, tubular shape with short limbs, large neck and small head. Pelage is chocolate brown throughout, often with white marking on the chin and chest. Tail is slightly darker than body.
Occurs throughout North America wherever suitable water bodies occur. American mink have been introduced in many areas following escapes from fur farms and now inhabit South America and most of western Europe.
American mink occur in proximity to water in a wide variety of habitats from farmland to pastures, mixed forests, prairies, and evergreen forests, even north into the tundra.
They hunt mostly at night along creeks and waterways, searching for prey in and around water. Mink are skillful swimmers and divers, and can climb trees.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Feeds chiefly on small mammals, muskrats, fish, crayfish, frogs, and rabbits.
Promiscuous. Breeding occurs in the spring, gestation is 51 days, and the litter size is two to eight, typically four. Females raise young alone. Longevity may reach eight years in captivity, but typically is less than three years in the wild.
The fur trade of the American mink probably is the most popular of all Mustelidae. Since World War I, American mink have been raised on farms where selective breeding can produce color variations such as pure white mink, completely black mink, silver-blue-gray varieties ("platinum"), and blue ones ("sapphire"). Because of their popularity, American mink were introduced into numerous countries of Europe and Asia. Subsequently, escapes from fur farms and releases led to the establishment of numerous feral populations outside of the original range. Impacts on native wildlife soon became appar
H Mustela vision H Gulo gulo ent and the American mink is now considered a pest for destroying and competing with native animals. ♦
Viverra mephitis (Schreber, 1776), eastern Canada. OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Moufette rayée; German: Streifenskunk; Spanish: Zo-rillo, moufetta.
Body length 13-18 in (33-45 cm, tail 7-10 in (18-25 cm), weight 4-18 lb (2-8 kg). Easily recognized by the black pelage contrasting with the two dorsal white stripes that unite on the nape. Tail is bushy and mixed with black and white hairs. Front claws are long for digging.
Occurs throughout most of the United States and Canada south to northern Mexico.
Occurs in farmland, grasslands and forests, and also in numerous large cities.
Nocturnal, the striped skunk shelters in abandoned buildings or underground burrows during the day. When threatened, striped skunks raise the tail, stomp the feet, do fake charges, and if needed, turn in a U-shape and spray their aggressor with the noxious fluid stored in their anal glands. The liquid is harmless to skin, and can easily be washed off; it irritates the eyes, causing extreme pain and may even result in temporary blindness. The smell is very difficult to remove from clothing. In northern environments, skunks become dormant in winter and must accumulate large amounts of fat to survive the long (sometimes up to six months) winters. Longevity may exceed eight years in captivity, but seldom exceeds three years in the wild.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Opportunistic omnivore that consumes mainly small rodents and insects, but also reptiles, amphibians, bird eggs, fruits, and seeds.
Promiscuous. Mating occurs in spring, implantation delay is short (less than 14 days) and variable, and between four and 10 young are born in April or May.
CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.
The striped skunk is an important vector of rabies in North America, and because of that, is often considered undesirable around human habitations. Also, the noxious smell of skunks typically annoys landowners, who fear their pets may get sprayed. In some areas, striped skunks are important predators of duck eggs. In others, skunks may kill bees or damage beehives and thus are considered pests. ♦
H Meies meles H Mephistis mephistis
Mustela lutra (Linnaeus, 1758), Sweden. OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Loutre d'Europe; German: Otter; Spanish: Nutria. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Body length 25-33 in (65-85 cm), tail 15-20 in (36-52 cm), weight 15-33 lb (7-15 kg). Long, tubular body with large neck, small flat head, small round eyes and ears, short limbs, and long tail flattened dorso-ventrally. All feet are fully webbed with short claws. Pelage is dark brown to black throughout, and fur is short and dense.
Europe, Asia, and north Africa.
Occupies streams, ponds, rivers, lakes, swamps, and coastal areas.
Travels alone or in groups, remaining in the water but occasionally crossing over land to reach other waterways. Prey are captured by active pursuit underwater, and larger prey are taken to shore for consumption. Longevity may exceed 20 years in captivity.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Fish, frogs, crabs, crayfish, small rodents, and aquatic birds.
Promiscuous. Litter size is two to four born in a waterside hole or crevice in April or June.
CONSERVATION STATUS Vulnerable.
European otters were historically hunted for their fur but are now protected through most of their distribution. May be considered as pests and killed on occasion for predation of fish in commercial fish ponds. ♦
Mustela gulo (Linnaeus, 1758), Sweden.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Carcajou, glouton; German:Vielfrafi.
Body length 25-34 in (65-87 cm), tail 7-10 in (17-26 cm), weight 22-55 lb (10-25 kg). Large and stocky. Pelage is brown most often with two yellowish stripes on back. Feet are broad and furred, webbed, and front feet have long, strong claws.
Throughout the northern part of North America and Asia.
Mostly in boreal forests, taiga, and tundra. BEHAVIOR
Wolverines are solitary, wide-roaming carnivores that abound where large game such as moose, caribou, or reindeer occur. Wolverines are strong climbers, and may follow wolves to scavenge remains of the prey killed by the pack hunters. Wolverines may be killed by wolves. Longevity may reach 16 years in captivity.
Wolverines are mostly scavengers that consume remains of large game. They may also kill and eat small mammals, birds and bird eggs, and can kill large ungulates or other carnivores such as lynx on occasion.
Promiscuous. Breeding occurs in summer. Gestation is long (215-275 days) because implantation is delayed. Litter size is one to four.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Hunted for its fur, especially in Alaska and Canadian territories. ♦
Ursus meles (Linnaeus, 1758), Sweden. OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Blaireau d'Europe; German: Dachs; Spanish: Tejon. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Body length 24-33 in (60-85 cm), tail 6-8 in (15-20 cm), weight 22-44 lb (10-20 kg). Head long and slender, stocky build, short limbs. Fur is long, thin, and stiff, and there is little underfur. Pelage is grayish throughout.
Throughout Europe and Asia south of the Arctic Circle.
Occurs in forests, ravines, and parks. BEHAVIOR
Active mostly at night, Eurasian badgers are social carnivores that hide in burrows (setts) during the day. May spend winter sleeping in burrows in northern environments. Longevity may reach 15 years in captivity.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Earthworms, snails, insects, small rodents, hedgehogs, fruits, seeds, mushrooms, and roots.
Promiscuous. Breeds in summer, implantation of fertilized egg is delayed, and litter of two to five young is born in February or March.
European badgers may conflict with humans because of damage to lawns, gardens, or golf courses. They also carry bovine tuberculosis, and programs to control badger abundance near cattle operations are in place, especially in Great Britain. ♦
Mustela barbara (Linnaeus, 1758), Brasilia (Brazil). OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Bushdog; French: Taira; German: Tayra; Spanish: Cabeza de viejo, gato negro.
Body length 22-27 in (56-71 cm), tail 15-18 in (37-46 cm), weight 4-15 lb (2-7 kg). Large and slender with long legs and long tail. Pelage dark brown to black, with grayish or pale yellow heads and neck.
Southern Mexico south to northern Argentina, and across most of South America east of the Andes.
Occurs in tropical or subtropical forested habitats, but also occupies human-altered habitats such as plantations, gardens, orchards.
Solitary and wide ranging, tayras are mostly diurnal. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Fruits, small rodents, carrion, insects, honey, and birds.
Promiscuous. Breeding occurs year-round, gestation 65 days, litter size one to three young.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS Locally hunted for their fur. ♦
Common name / Scientific name/ Other common names
Habitat and behavior
Western hog-nosed skunk Conepatus mesoleucus Spanish: Mofeta de mancha blanca
Ictonyx striatus English: Striped polecat; Spanish: Comadreja rayada
Hairy-nosed otter Lutra sumatrana French: Loutre de Sumatra; Spanish: Nutria de Sumatra
Patagonian weasel Lyncodon patagonicus German: Zwerggrison; Spanish: Huroncito patagónico
European pine marten Martes martes Spanish: Marta de los pinares
Chinese ferret badger Melogale moschata Spanish: Tejón chino
Honey badger Mellivora capensis English: Ratel; Spanish: Tejón melívoro
Coloration is black except for two white stripes, beginning at nape and extending to hips. Long, coarse fur, bushy tail with few black hairs on underside, small eyes and ears. One of the larger skunks. Average male length 22.7 in (57.7 cm), female 21.3 in (54.2 cm), weight 2.46 lb (1.1-2.7 kg).
Coloration Is black with white dorsal stripes, tail Is white, face has white markings. Head and body length 1115.2 in (28-38.5 cm), tail length 7.9-12 in (20-30.5 cm).
Foothills, partially timbered, Arizona, Colorado, and Species is omnivorous Not threatened or brushy areas. They avoid Texas, United States, and food depends on open desert and heavily south to Nicaragua. season. Consumes wooded areas, and instead mostly insects, choose rocky areas where arachnids, vegetable they make their dens. Breed- matter, some reptiles, ing season begins in February. and small mammals. Litter consists of up to three young. Mostly nocturnal, groups not common. Powerful musk.
Variety of habitats, but avoid Africa from Sudan to Small rodents, large in- Not threatened dense forest. Can be found in temperate forest and rainforest, desert, tropical, deciduous forest, tropical scrub forest, tropical savanna, and grasslands. Mating season from early spring to late summer. Usually three young per litter. Extremely solitary.
All types of inland waterways, estuaries, and marine covers. Excellent swimmers and divers. May shelter in small burrows. Swim by movement of hind legs and tail. May be either diurnal or nocturnal.
sects, eggs, snakes, birds, frogs, small mammals, and reptiles.
Indochina, Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Bangka, Java, and Borneo.
Pampas. Habits are little known. Argentina and southern Chile.
Upperparts brownish, underparts paler. Lower jaw and throat are whitish, fur is short and dense, head is flattened and round. Small ears and nostrils close in water. Head and body length 18.1-32.3 in (46-82 cm), tail length 11.8-19.7 in (30-50 cm).
Coloration is grayish brown with a whitish tinge on back. Top of head is white. Underparts are brown. Head and body length 11.8-13.8 in (30-35 cm), tail length 2.4-3.5 in (6-9 cm).
Coloration is rich brown, thick and silky fur. Forest habitats, including rain-Complete molt once a year. Tail is long and forest, temperate grassland, bushy, ears large and triangular. Head and and deciduous, mixed, and body length 17.7-22.8 in (45-58 cm), tail coniferous forest. Old-growth length 6.3-11 in (16-28 cm). forest is often preferred over young forest. Considered to be habitat specialist. May also show no habitat preference and reside in shrubland. Two to 5 offspring per litter. Mating occurs within 30- to 45-day periods. Mostly active during night and at dusk.
Coloration of upperparts is gray brown to Wooded country and grassland. Assam to southern
Fish, frogs, crayfish, crabs, and other aquatic invertebrates. May also consume birds and land mammals, such as rodents and rabbits.
Very carnivorous animal, rats are most likely a large part of diet.
Western Europe to western Siberia and the Caucasus, Ireland, Britain, for most of the year. The
Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily.
brown balck. Underparts are paler. White or Species makes burrows and reddish dorsal stripe. Head is black with patches of white or yellow. Tail is bushy. Limbs are short, feet are broad. Head and body length 13-16.9 in (33-43 cm), tail length 5.7-9.1 in (14.5-23 cm).
Coloration is black with white strip that runs from above eyes to tip of tail. Head and body length 31.5 in (80 cm), tail length 3.9 in (10 cm).
shelters during day, active at night. Usually one to three young per litter.
Temperate climates, and not in overly hot and arid, or wet and dense ones, such as jungles and deserts. Can be found in tropical deciduous forest, temperate forest, and rainforest, temperate grassland, tropical savanna and grasslands. Solitary animal, but groups may consist of three members. Nomadic with large home range, very secretive, nocturnal.
China and northern Indochina, Taiwan, and Hainan.
Africa, the Middle East, and India.
Mostly carnivorous, relying on small mammals
Not threatened diet composition and proportion often change according to season and local conditions. Populations respond to the unpredictable cycles of rodents, such as voles, by drastically increasing their consumption of these prey items
Mostly omnivorous animals, but also consume arachnids, insects, small mammals, mollusks, and snails. Diet depends on seasonal availability.
Omnivorous. Most often observed consuming small reptiles, rodents, birds, insects and even carrion but also eats fruits, berries, roots, plants, and eggs. Occasionally honey.
Common name / Scientific name/ Other common names
Habitat and behavior
Hooded skunk Mephitis macroura Spanish: Mofeta de cola larga
Indonesian stink badger Mydaus javensis English: Malaysian stink badger; Spanish: Tejón malayo
Philippine stink badger Mydaus marchei English: Philippine badger, Palawan stink badger; Spanish: Tejón filipino
Least weasel Mustela nivalis
White-naped weasel Poecilogale albinucha Spanish: Comadreja serpiente
North African striped weasel Poecilictis libyca
North American badger Taxidea taxus
Spanish: Tejón norteamericano
Marbled polecat Vormela peregusna Spanish: Turón jaspeado
Coloration Is black with white stripe from eyes to tip of tail. Long, soft fur, especially on upper neck. Very long tails. Average male length 27.6 in (70 cm). Average male body weight 1.8-2 lb (800-900 g), female 0.9-1.5 lb (400-700 g).
Coloration varies from dark black to blackish brown with white patch on the top of the head. A white mid-dorsal stripe extends from head and to tip of tail. Neck hair stands nearly erect. Small, squat, heavy, and nearly plantigrade body. Head and body length 14.6-20.1 in (37-51 cm), tail length 2-3 in (5-7.5 cm), weight 3.1-7.9 lb (1.4-3.6 kg).
Upperparts are brown to black, scattering of white hair on back, underparts brown. Head and body length 12.6-18.1 in (32-46 cm), tail length 0.6-1.8 in (1.5-4.5 cm), weight 5.5 lb (2.5 kg)
Body is long and slender, long neck, short limbs. Large, black eyes. Mass depends on location, the largest originating from Africa. Coloration is chocolate brown on back side, white with brown spots on under side.
Intermediate elevations, above deserts but below high mountains; desert scrub, closed basin scrub, plains-mesa grassland, desert grassland, and riparian areas. Mostly nocturnal.
Elevations often above 7,000 ft (2,130 m), but may occur below 4,000 ft (1,220 m) and even as low as 850 ft (260 m) in West Java. Most inhabit shallow burrows underground. Mainly nocturnal. Two or three offspring per litter.
Elevations often above 7,000 ft (2,130 m). Active during day and night. Leaves track and scent along paths.
Wide variety of habitats, including open forests, farmlands, meadows, prairies, steppe, and semi-deserts. Avoids deep forests, sandy deserts, and open spaces. Separation of males and females, except during breeding season. Dens are taken from prey.
Arizona and southwestern Texas, United States, to Nicaragua.
Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and North Natuna Islands.
Palawan and Calamian Island (Philippines).
Western Europe and Asia Minor to northeastern
Insects and vertebrates such as shrews and rodents. Also eat plant material such as prickly pear fruit.
Forage mainly for Insects and worms, but also feed on Invertebrates and plant material. Consume bird eggs and carrion as well.
Forage mainly for insects and worms, but also feed on invertebrates and plant material. Consume bird eggs and carrion as well.
Small mammals, mainly rodents, birds' eggs,
Siberia and Korea, parts of nestlings, insects, and
China and possibly Indochina, Britain, several Mediterranean islands, Japan, northwestern Africa, Egypt, Alaska, Canada, and north-central United States.
Sleek, long body with short legs. Coloration Is Forest edge, grassland, and From Zaire and Uganda to Mainly carnivorous and black with white stripe from top of head to tip of tail and along sides. White stripe may be yellow to deep buff. Head and body length 9.8-14.2 in (25-36 cm), tail length 5.2-9.1 in (13-23 cm).
Back is white with variable patter of black bands. Tail is white, underparts and limbs are black. Hair on back stands erects. Head and body length 7.9-11.2 in (20-28.5 cm), tail length 3.9-7.1 in (10-18 cm).
Upperparts are grayish to reddish, white stripe extends from neck and shoulder area to rump. Black patches present on face and cheeks. Head and body length 16.5-28.3 in (42-72 cm), tail length 3.9-6.1 in (10-15.5 cm), weight 8.8-26.5 lb (4-12 kg).
Back is reddish brown, and white or yellowish, tail is whitish with dark tip. Underparts are dark brown or black, facial mask is dark brown. Head and body length 1.4-15 in (29-38 cm), tail length 5.9-8.6 in (15-21.8 cm), weight 0.8-1.6 lb (370715 g).
marsh regions. Species is nocturnal and fossorial. Can climb very well, but usually stays on the ground. May be solitary or stay in groups of 2-4 family members. Releases an odor from its anal glands when it is attacked or under stress.
Edges of Sahara and contiguous arid zones. Nocturnal, shelters throughout day. Litter contains two or three offspring. Disagreeable smell and aggressive toward humans.
Relatively dry, open country. May be active at all hours, but mainly nocturnal. Mating in summer and early autumn.
Steppes and foothills. Species is solitary, except during breeding season. Mainly nocturnal, good climber, litter size is 4 to 8 young.
Morocco and Senegal to the Red Sea.
Northern Alberta and southern British Columbia, Canada, to Ohio, United States, central Mexico, and Baja California.
Steppe and subdesert zones from the Balkans and Palestine to Inner Mongolia and Pakistan.
eats small mammals, including rodents, rats, mole rats, and birds, and also snakes and insects.
Rodents, young ground birds, eggs, lizards, and insects.
Mainly prey within foraged dens, but also small mammals, birds, reptiles, and arthropods.
Rodents, birds, reptiles, and other animals.
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