The short-tailed weasel, also called an ermine or stoat, is found all over Canada, the northern United States, Europe, and Asia.
They live in similar habitats to the long-tailed weasel including the taigas and tundra of Siberia.
They are very similar in all ways to the long-tailed weasel, with one distinct difference. They have a much shorter tail, just half their body length and with a black tip. They always turn white in winter (they only range in places that have snow in winter).
They are active and alert, good swimmers and climbers. They are territorial and will attack trespassers and are though they are active mostly at night (nocturnal) they can be out at any time during the day.
They are fierce hunters feeding mostly on small rodents but also taking rabbits, birds, reptiles and even fruit in summer. They kill their prey by biting down hard on the base of the skull.
Predators include foxes, coyotes, badgers, falcons and hawks.
Short-tailed weasels live alone except to mate. Though it can be more than 9 months between the time they mate and the female has her 6 young, weasels are not truly pregnant until March and they have the young about 6 weeks later. This is called delayed implantation and many wild mammals have this same adaptation. It allows the animals to mate in the fall when they are more active, than try to find each other in late winter. The young are born in late April to early May. Within 2 months they can kill their own prey.
If a short-tailed weasel survives to become an adult they may live for several years. They are listed as Lower Risk - least concern.
Species: Mustela erminea
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Amsel, Sheri. "Weasel (Short Tailed) or (Ermine)" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2024. January 8, 2024
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