The Weasels Habitat, History and Habits

David Petersen shares information on the secretive North American weasels habitat, history and habits.


| November/December 1986



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Weasels belong to the family of carnivores known to biologists as Mustelidae — a taxonomic moniker that translates crudely to "mouse stealers" and includes 64 species worldwide.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

In search of the original better mousetrap, learn about the different varieties of North American weasels habitat, history and habits.  

The Weasels Habitat, History and Habits

The seemingly innocuous little creature we call the weasel is an insatiable killer driven to murderous frenzy by a large parasite residing in its stomach. It sucks the blood of its victims, conceives through its mouth and gives birth through an ear, can squeeze itself through a wedding ring, and magically changes from brown to white within hours of the first snowfall each winter. (See the different varieties of weasels in the image gallery).

In my research I've run across each of those beliefs concerning the weasel — some several times — recorded as myth, legend, or scientific fact. Of course, there's not a word of truth to any of them . . . but lack of truth has seldom stopped people from believing what they will about the mysteries of life. And, because of its furtiveness, the weasel is a mystery.

That's why such a small creature holds such great interest for me. Even though two of the three North American weasel species live literally just beyond my door, the secretive little buggers continually frustrate my efforts to observe them in the wild for more than a few seconds at a time.

Others have better luck. The trick to weasel watching, a photographer friend tells me, is finding the rascals on their home turf in the weasels habitat. Near their dens, he says, they're not the least bit shy — so long as you do nothing to startle them. Once, my friend reports, an entire family of the little squirts approached to within just a few yards and cavorted for his camera.

I guess I've always been in the right places at the wrong times and the wrong places the rest of the time. Or maybe I'm just weasel jinxed. But I'll keep at it. And between treks to the woods, I'll keep learning what I can from more successful weasel watchers.





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