Monday, February 27, 2012

Least Weasel

Mustela nivalis
The Least Weasel has a very appropriate name- they are the smallest member of the entire Carnivora order! Though their size is small, their home range is not. These little Mustelids live in Europe, North America, North Africa, and Asia. They have also been introduced to several other locations as well.

Least Weasels feed on other small mammals, and on rare occasion also hunt birds and amphibians. While their prey is usually smaller, like a mouse or gerbil, they have been known to take down much larger animals like adult rabbits.

Like a handful of other Mustelids, the Least Weasels change color depending on the time of year. In winter their coats are dense and white, while in summer the hair is more coarse and brown.

The breeding season of the Least Weasel is completely dependent on their prey. If the rodent populations are high they might breed a few times a year. But if the populations are low, there may only be one litter. The young  Weasels can be born in litters of up to ten, and they grow very fast. A Least Weasel reaches sexual maturity when they are 3-4 months old.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Europe, Asia, North Africa, North America
Size : Length up to 10in (25cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Mustelidae --  Genus : Mustela -- Species : M. nivalis


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