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Long-tailed Weasel

Mustela Frenata

Long-tailed weasels can be found all over Canada, the United States (including Alaska), and in some parts of South America. It changes colour according to the season. Like its close relatives, the least weasel and ermine, it is a reddish-brown colour in the summer months and a creamy-white colour in the winter months, which makes it harder for predators to see them.

The long-tailed weasel's habitat ranges from temperate to tropical. It does not live in desert or thick forrests. Rather, farmland, tangles of shurbs or trees, fields and woodlands are areas it can be found. It may nest in hollow logs, rockpiles, and under barns. Even though the long-tailed weasel is a small predator, it is able to hunt mammals larger then themselves. However, it perfer small prey such as mice, voles, chipmunks, frogs, small birds (only occaisonally due to the challenge of catching them), as well as insects and berries. To stay fit and healthy it tends to eat up to 35-40% of its body weight per day. It is a nocturnal animal and relies on its highly-developed sense of smell to hunt. When a victim is found, the long-tailed weasel uses its mighty bite to disalbe its prey, to the neck or skull. It takes over its victim's burrow if looking to nest. It is known for being quick, agile, and alert. Being able to climb and swim is also advantages it uses when hunting.

The sexes live apart except during mating season. A male's home range may overlap many females but will never overlap other male's due to their lack of social skills. Males are very territorial and become aggressive when an intruder invades their home range. In a defence mode, they puff themselves in a threatening display and become very noisy, giving warning sounds like clucks, high pitched screams, and barks.

When the time comes to reproduce the male long-tailed weasel sprays its musk, using it like bait to attract females. Mating season is the only time they are found together. They usually mate in March. Females will have one partner while males often have many. Unlike other mammals, weasels have delayed implantations, which means the sperm will sit in the female until the eggs are ready to develop, usually 9 to 9-1/2 months later in April or early May. The eggs don't begin to develop until about 27 days before the babies are born. An average litter is six but litters can range from 2-8. They are born a reddish-pink colour, lightly covered in a soft whitish-grey fuzz. Two weeks after birth their fur thickens and it is easier to distinuish the males from the femles by the size differences. Males tend to be larger. At one month, the young long-tailed weasels should be weaned and can eat food the mother has provided from them. She teaches them to develop hunting skills so they are prepared for when they are on their own. They leave the mother about 2 months after birth. The young females will mate their first summer while the males will wait until the following year.

Baby long-tailed weasels

The Canadian range for the long-tailed weasel is shown is orange .

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