In this article, “13 Types of Weasels (Interesting Facts)”, Wildlife Informer explores the fascinating world of weasels. Categorized under the genus Mustela, these creatures share several characteristics, such as slender bodies, short legs, and voracious appetites. From the smallest of all weasels, the least weasel, to the elusive missing-toothed pygmy weasel, each species has unique traits and habitats. Whether it’s the Malayan weasel, the Japanese weasel with its unchanging coat color, or the endangered Indonesian mountain weasel, readers will discover the diversity and remarkable adaptations of these intriguing animals. Join Wildlife Informer on a captivating journey through the world of weasels and uncover interesting facts about these cunning creatures.
13 Types of Weasels
Weasels are fascinating creatures that belong to the genus Mustela. This group includes weasels, least weasels, ferrets, polecats, and the European mink. They are known for their slender, long bodies covered in short fur, short legs, and voracious appetites fueled by their high-energy lifestyles. While all types of weasels are carnivores, they have been known to eat bird, snake, and chicken eggs as well. Weasels can be found across Europe, Asia, North and South America, and parts of North Africa. In this article, we will explore 13 different types of weasels and learn some interesting facts about each of them.
The least weasel is the smallest of all the weasels. It is between five and six inches long, just slightly larger than an ordinary mouse. It has a one-inch tail and a classic, elongated weasel body. These weasels can be found in marshes, meadows, and crop fields. They have sharp, tiny teeth and sharp claws. While their favorite food is mice, least weasels can also be pests due to their nocturnal behavior. They can sneak into livestock barns or chicken coops and prey on newly born animals.
The Malayan weasel is native to Borneo, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula. Little is known about this mysterious weasel, as researchers are not sure if they are nocturnal like other weasels. However, they have determined that the Malayan weasel is mostly carnivorous and solitary in nature. Sightings of this weasel have been reported in suburban areas, plantations, and forests severely degraded by climate change and farming.
Similar in appearance to the Siberian weasel, the Japanese weasel carries a unique trait. Its coat stays the same color throughout all seasons. Zoologists believe that this is because the Japanese weasel lives in a warmer climate where it rarely snows. Japanese weasels are native to the Shikoku, Kyushu, and Honshu Islands of Japan. They were introduced to the Ryukyu and Hokkaido islands in the past to help reduce the rodent population.
The American ermine, also known as the short-tailed weasel or the American stoat, can be found in most areas of North America except for the Great Plains and southeastern states, including Florida. These weasels inhabit woodlands, prairies, and farms where mice, shrews, and voles are plentiful. Female stoats are called jills, while male stoats are colloquially known as hobs, jacks, or dogs.
Mountain weasels are known for their ability to hide in tree trunks, crevices, and discarded burrows of other animals. They can be found in Tibet, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the Himalayas, and northern China. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, they are considered an endangered species. Mountain weasels have a carnivorous diet consisting of rodents, lizards, muskrats, fish, and rabbits.
Missing-toothed Pygmy (Sichuan) Weasel
Very little is known about the elusive missing-toothed pygmy weasel. It lives high in the mountains of the Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces in China and physically resembles the least weasels in size and color. The missing-toothed pygmy weasel is named as such because it is missing a second lower molar. However, this does not seem to hinder its ability to catch and eat small mammals, which make up a large part of its diet.
Indonesian Mountain Weasel
The Indonesian mountain weasel is another endangered species. It can be found on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java. This tropical jungle and mountain-living weasel is currently experiencing severe population reductions due to habitat destruction and hunting by fur traders.
The black-footed weasel is native to North and South America and has been on the endangered species list since 1973. Reasons for the decline in their population include drought, inbreeding, and diseases. The black-footed weasel is also known as a ferret because it belongs to the genus Mustela. Domesticated ferrets, on the other hand, are not weasels.
Preying on voles, rats, mice, and small birds in pine forests, the yellow-bellied weasel gets its name from its distinct yellow belly and dark brown body. During winter, these weasels descend from mountainous areas to avoid blizzards and frigid temperatures. They can be found in Thailand, China, Pakistan, and India.
Siberian weasels inhabit large areas of South Asia, including the Himalayas, northern Thailand and China, and North Korea. They rely on a primary nest, such as fallen logs or stump interiors, to survive harsh weather. According to Chinese folklore, Siberian weasels are not only insatiable creatures but also tricksters who can fool animals and humans alike.
Found throughout most areas of Southeast Asia, the back-striped weasel is notable for the silver streak of fur extending from its neck to the tail root. It also has a narrow streak of yellow fur reaching from its chest to its stomach. Although smaller than other weasels, the back-striped weasel is not as small as the least weasel. Its long, bushy tail is nearly half the length of its body.
The steppe polecat can be found in Central Asia, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe. It is easily recognized by the dark mask covering its face and its yellowish or light tan fur. These nomadic weasels prey on hamsters, ground squirrels, and marmots. They leave an area once they have exhausted their resources.
The Amazon weasel is typically found in the Amazon Basin, eastern Ecuador, and Peru. This tropical weasel is believed to live mostly around Amazonian tributaries, where it preys on small mammals, fish, and possibly crustaceans. Some sightings have indicated that this weasel may swim far from the banks of the Amazon River and larger streams.
In conclusion, weasels are a diverse group of carnivores with fascinating characteristics and habitats. From the small and elusive least weasel to the endangered black-footed weasel, each type of weasel has its own unique traits and adaptations. These creatures play important roles in their ecosystems and provide valuable insights into the natural world.