Adapting its fur to its surrounding the weasel always has the latest trend.

These odd looking little creatures could pass for a distant cousin to the wiener dog (Dachshund). They are North America’s smallest carnivore (meat-eater). The weasel has a distinctive look with a long body, short legs, long neck, and close cropped dense fur.

There are three species in Canada:

  • Least,
  • Short Tailed and 
  • Long Tailed Weasel.
least weasel image

For camouflage in the winter, most weasels change colour from brown, black and white, or yellow-tan to all white. The Least Weasel stands out in the Mustelid family because it is the only one without a black-tipped tail and the smallest, measuring slightly larger than a mouse. The Short Tailed weasel is roughly the size of a rat, while the Long Tailed weasel is larger like its relative the ferret.  

They eat a variety of small prey, but mostly mice and voles. Along the edge of bodies of water, where food is plentiful, weasels can be found hunting for prey. They often make their den in a rodent’s burrow using the fur of its prey for bedding. This solitary and opportunistic animal will make a den in any suitable crack, crevice or hole. Weasels mark their territory with feces, urine and musk from their scent glands.

More interesting facts:

  • they are not rodents, they are in the Mustelid family
  • they do not hibernate
  • if the snow is deep they tunnel under it (one tunnel in BC was found to be a staggering 8km long)
  • they are still trapped for their fur
  • mink are part of the Mustelid family and
  • they are strictly carnivorous, never supplementing with plant life

There are many more interesting facts about these small carnivores just waiting to be looked up on-line, or perhaps consider a family trip to the library. Maybe you discover one of their tunnels in the snow on your next hike in Wilden. 🙂 

-Article by Flora McLeod