Always on the hunt

Weasels are fascinating to watch

A weasel in its winter coat on the hunt. Flickr photo by Admitter

A weasel in its winter coat on the hunt. Flickr photo by Admitter

I've been enjoying the company of a little white carnivore this winter. Known by most people as simply a weasel, this particular fellow is none other than a short-tailed weasel, also widely known as an ermine.

Fearless, my ermine, as is characteristic of all species of weasels, it hunts mice, voles, shrews, and other small prey with purpose and efficiency. Few predators are as specialized and capable as are weasels.

First discovered in my open garage gnawing on a frozen piece of venison fat, I've come to enjoy the antics of the ermine as it darts about and disappears, only to reappear seconds later somewhere else nearby.

Observing its behavior and motion is an exercise of delight and wonderment because I never know where the ermine will "pop" up next or what it will do.

There are three species of weasels that live in Minnesota: short-tailed weasel/ermine, long-tailed weasel, and the smallest carnivore in the world, the least weasel.

In their northern range, weasels are the only members of the family Mustelidae, or weasel family, that turns white in the winter.

In autumn, white hairs replace their brown summer coat. The weasel then becomes pure white except for its black-tipped tail. Would-be predators like owls sometimes focus on the black spot on the tip of a weasel's tail when attacking a weasel, thereby causing them to sometimes miss capturing the weasel altogether. 

For full article, go to: DLOnline

Source, image(s), credits & more: DLOnline | Blane Klemek