Of the 16 extant species currently classified in the genus
Mustela, 10 have "weasel" in their common name. Among those that
do not are the stoat or ermine, the two species of mink, and the
polecats or ferrets.
Weasels vary in length from 15 to 35 centimeters (6 to 14 inches), and usually have a light brown upper coat, white belly and black fur at the tip of the tail; in many species, populations living at high latitudes moult to a white coat with black fur at the tip of the tail in winter. They have long slender bodies, which enable them to follow their prey into burrows. Their tails are typically almost as long as the rest of their bodies. As is typical of small carnivores, weasels have a reputation for cleverness and guile. They also have tails that can be any where from 22-33cm long and they use these to defend the food they get and to claim territory from other weasels.
Weasels feed on small mammals, and in former times were
considered vermin since some species took poultry from farms, or
rabbits from commercial warrens. Certain species of weasel and
ferrets, have been reported to perform the mesmerizing weasel
war dance, after fighting other creatures, or acquiring food
from competing creatures. In folklore at least, this dance is
particularly associated with the stoat.
Collective nouns for a group of weasels include boogle, gang, pack, and confusion.
Weasels are found all across the world except for Australia and neighboring islands.
This Weasel Page is Copyright The Animal Web Guide © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub