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Least Weasel

Least Weasel
Photographer: Kevin Law


Two Least Weasels Fighting
Two Least Weasels Fighting
Photographer: Ainalem


Least Weasel

Least Weasel Range Map (N America, Europe, N Africa & Asia)
Least Weasel Range Map
(North America, Europe, North Africa & Asia)
Attribution: IUCN, species assessors & spatial data authors
Latin Name Mustela nivalis
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location N America, Europe, N Africa & Asia
Colour Brown
Length 16.5 - 24 cms (6.5 - 9.5 inches)
Tail 3 - 9 cms (1.25 - 3.5 inches)
Weight 35 - 250 g (1.25 - 9 oz)
Life Expectancy

Up to 3 Yrs (Wild)

Main Characteristics

Least Weasels are the smallest mustelid and also the smallest carnivore. They have a body length between 16.5 and 24 cms (6.5 - 9.5 inches), a tail length between 3 and 9 cms (1.25 - 3.5 inches) and they weigh between 35 and 250 g (1.25 - 9 oz).

They are brown in colour with a white underside. During the winter months those that inhabit northern and eastern areas turn white but those that inhabit southern Europe remain brown.

Their body is long and slim and they have a small flattened head that is barely wider than their neck. This enables them to enter small burrows when hunting for prey.

Habitat

Least Weasels live in a variety of habitats in North America, Europe, north Africa and Asia. They are solitary and are active both during the day and at night. They make nests in crevices, tree roots or abandoned burrows and they have a range of 1 - 25 hectares.

Diet

Least Weasels mainly feed on small rodents such as mice and voles but they will also eat eggs and birds. They need to consume at least one third of their body weight each day in order to survive.

Breeding

During April or May and after a gestation period of 34 - 37 days, 4 - 6 kits are born. When the youngsters are 4 weeks old they are weaned and they are able to hunt at 8 weeks old. They are independent at 9 - 12 weeks old and they reach sexual maturity at 3 - 4 months old.

Predators

Predators of adult Least Weasels are large owls and birds of prey. Youngsters also fall prey to snakes.

Subspecies

Subspecies of the Least Weasel include:

Mustela nivalis nivalis
Mustela nivalis vulgaris

Interesting Facts

Least Weasels are also known as:
Weasel

Stoats and Least Weasels look very alike. They can be distinguished from one another by the black tip on the end of a stoat's tail.

Similar Animals

African Striped Weasel
Back-Striped Weasel
Colombian Weasel
Siberian Weasel
Tropical Weasel
Indonesian Mountain Weasel
Taiwan High Mountain Weasel
Yellow-Bellied Weasel

 


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