Monday, March 28, 2011

Ermine

Winter Coat Ermine
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Carnivora
Family : Mustelidae
Genus : Mustela
Species : M. erminea

Length : 13in (33cm)

IUCN Status : Least Concern

Ermines (also known as Stoats) can be found natively throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are one of those curious creatures that possesses the ability to change color with the season. In summer, they are brown with lighter undersides, but in the winter they are almost completely white! Ermines are skilled predators that consume mostly birds and small mammals.

Ermine's don't live particularly long, in fact, their average life expectancy in the wild is only a year or two! Because of this, females are sexually mature at the age of only two months, which is remarkable since young are born blind and helpless. Interestingly, males take a year or two to sexually mature, meaning they often only live through one mating season.

Summer Coat Ermine
The winter fur of an ermine has been highly sought after, and has been used as a symbol of royalty and nobility. Ermine fur is also mimicked in heraldry.

Ermines have unfortunately become quite problematic in several island areas. For example, in the 1880s they were brought to New Zealand to control of the rabbit populations. The Ermines bred and flourished, which proved disastrous to many of the country's flightless bird species. The New Zealand Department of Conservation is constantly working on ways to eliminate what they refer to as "public enemy number one for New Zealand birds."

1 comment:

  1. typo located 1st paragraph 6th line down In winter is written twice for both colors of the ermine :)

    ReplyDelete

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