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January is WEASEL month

Updated: Feb 1

January is WEASEL MONTH here at Calgary Wildlife. Weasels belong to the Mustelidae family. Their relatives include badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, minks, and wolverines and are found all over Canada.



Weasel month at Calgary Widlife


As skilled hunters, most weasels have slender tube-shaped bodies, short legs, long tails, strong necks and small heads with rounded ears. They can fit into the smallest of holes to find their prey. Weasels coats are dark brown with lighter patches under the belly and the fur is thick to protect them in cold climates. In northern regions, their coats turn white in winter.



There are three species of weasels that call Alberta and Canada home:


- The Long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) is the largest of the three


- The Short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea) also known as the ermine or stoat


- The Least weasel (Mustela nivalis) is the world’s smallest mammal carnivore and is not much bigger than the mice it hunts.



Did you know that stoats and ermines are the same species?

Stay tuned for more wonderful weasel information coming all this month, where we will find out more about weasel habitat, diet, and how to live in harmony with these small but mighty hunters.











 



Weasel month continues here at Calgary Wildlife. Did you know that weasels are great for pest control? It's true, all species of weasel eat small mammals and insects, such as rodents, rabbits, birds, eggs and, given the chance, the occasional chicken. They hunt both day and night and are excellent climbers, swimmers and runners.



Did you know weasels are great for pest control?

A small, flexible body allows weasels to both get into underground burrows with ease, and wrap around larger animals to hold them still during an attack. They eat around 40% of their body weight each day and often kill more than they can eat, storing the rest for later. They are serious predators, and they're designed for pursuing prey.




Weasels live throughout Alberta and the rest of Canada. They prefer coniferous forest or tundra, but also happily inhabit open fields, farmlands, marshes, meadows and broken woodlands. Most live in abandoned burrows, or nest under trees or rockpiles.


Their coats are dark brown with lighter patches under the belly. In northern regions, it turns white in winter.



Weasel in it's winter white fur


Weasels don’t hibernate and are active all year long. Aside from mating or weaning young, weasels are solitary animals. They are very territorial and, much like skunks, will release a foul-smelling spray as a defense mechanism.



Stay tuned for our last Weasel Month post coming soon!



 

Did you know that a group of weasels may be referred to as a “boogle”, “confusion”, “gang”, or “pack”? It's true!



For our last Weasel Month post, let's talk about the relationship between weasels and humans.



Weasel in the rocks

As efficient killers of mice and other rodents, weasels are very useful to humans and especially farmers, except when they take their poultry! There is a historic feud between chicken farmers and weasels, their slender, flexible bodies allow them to slip into chicken coops through unprotected holes in the wall. Once inside the coop, they will raid the nests and will attack the birds. While most weasels prefer rodents to chickens, they will hunt fowl if the chance arises. This behavior has led many farmers to view weasels as sneaky, voracious creatures, but weasels are just doing what they have evolved to do. Farmers can prevent weasel attacks on chickens by checking and repairing holes in their coops, blocking their entry encourages weasels to go back to their helpful habit of hunting rodents. This goes for anyone needing to deter weasels from entering areas they are not wanted, search and find the holes, repair them, and weasels will stay out.



weasel month calgary wildlife

For the rest of us (non-chicken farmers), weasels are mostly helpful pest hunters and curious photography subjects. A joy to see out and about doing what they do in nature.












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