Least weasel

The least weasel (Mustela nivalis), common weasel, or simply weasel in the UK[2] and much of the world, is the smallest member of the genus Mustela, family Mustelidae and order Carnivora.[3][4] It is native to Eurasia, North America and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand, Australia, Malta, Crete, Bermuda, Madeira Island, the Azores, the Canary Islands, São Tomé, the Falkland Islands, Argentina and Chile.[5] It is classified as least concern by the IUCN, due to its wide distribution and large population throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Least weasels from various parts of its range vary greatly in size. The body is slender and elongated, the legs and tail are relatively short. The colour varies geographically, as does the pelage type and length of tail. The dorsal surface, flanks, limbs and tail of the animal are usually some shade of brown while the underparts are white. The line delineating the boundary between the two colours is usually straight. At high altitudes and in the northern part of its range, the coat becomes pure white in winter. Eighteen subspecies are recognised.

Small rodents form the largest part of the least weasel's diet, but it also kills and eats rabbits, other mammals, and occasionally birds, birds' eggs, fish and frogs. Males mark their territories with olfactory signals and have exclusive home ranges which may intersect with or include several female ranges. Least weasels use pre-existing holes to sleep, store food and raise their young. Breeding takes place in the spring and summer, and there is a single litter of about six kits which are reared exclusively by the female. Due to its small size and fierce nature, the least weasel plays an important part in the mythology and legend of various cultures.

Least weasel
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene–Recent
Mustela nivalis -British Wildlife Centre-4
Least weasel at the British Wildlife Centre, Surrey, England
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Mustela
Species:
M. nivalis
Binomial name
Mustela nivalis
Least Weasel area
Global range of M. nivalis

Taxonomy and evolution

The least weasel was given its scientific name Mustela nivalis by Carl Linnaeus in his 12th edition of Systema Naturae in 1766. The type locality was Västerbotten in Sweden. As an animal with a very wide distribution, the morphology of the least weasel varies geographically. The species was reviewed by Reichstein in 1957 and again by van Zyll de Jong in 1992 and Reig in 1997. Youngman (1982) placed it in the subgenus Mustela while Abramov (1999) considered it should be included in the subgenus Gale. Based on skull characteristics, Reig (1997) proposed that the taxon should be split into four species, M. subpalmata, M. rixosa, M. vulgaris and M. eskimo. Abrimov and Baryshinikov (2000) disagreed, recognising only M. subpalmata as a separate species.[6]

Within the genus Mustela, the least weasel is a relatively unspecialised form, as evidenced by its pedomorphic skull, which occurs even in large subspecies.[7] Its direct ancestor was Mustela praenivalis, which lived in Europe during the Middle Pleistocene and Villafranchian. M. praenivalis itself was probably preceded by M. pliocaenica of the Pliocene. The modern species probably arose during the Late Pleistocene.[8] The least weasel is the product of a process begun 5–7 million years ago, when northern forests were replaced by open grassland, thus prompting an explosive evolution of small, burrowing rodents. The weasel's ancestors were larger than the current form, and underwent a reduction in size to exploit the new food source. The least weasel thrived during the Ice Age, as its small size and long body allowed it to easily operate beneath snow, as well as hunt in burrows. It probably crossed to North America through the Bering land bridge 200,000 years ago.[9]

Subspecies

MSU V2P1b - Mustela nivalis subspecies painting
Various least weasel subspecies;
(from left to right)
M. n. pygmaea,
M. n. nivalis,
M. n. pallida,
M. n. vulgaris,
M. n. boccamela,
M. n. heptneri.

The least weasel has a high geographic variation, a fact which has historically led to numerous disagreements among biologists studying its systematics. Least weasel subspecies are divided into 3 categories:[10]

  • The pygmaea–rixosa group (small weasels): Tiny weasels with short tails, pedomorphic skulls, and pelts that turn pure white in winter. They inhabit northern European Russia, Siberia, the Russian Far East, Finland, northern Scandinavian Peninsula, Mongolia, northeastern China, Japan and North America.[10]
  • The boccamela group (large weasels): Very large weasels with large skulls, relatively long tails and lighter coloured pelts. Locally, they either do not turn white or only partially change colour in winter. They inhabit Transcaucasia, from western Kazakhstan to Semirechye and in the flat deserts of Middle Asia. They are also found in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.[10]
  • The nivalis group (average weasels): Medium-sized weasels, with tails of moderate length, representing a transitional form between the former two groups. They inhabit the middle and southern regions of European Russia, Crimea, Ciscaucasus, western Kazakhstan, southern and middle Urals and montane parts of Middle Asia, save for Koppet Dag.[10]

Description

Frenataermineanivalis
Skulls of a long-tailed weasel (top), a stoat (bottom left) and least weasel (bottom right), as illustrated in Merriam's Synopsis of the Weasels of North America

The least weasel has a thin, greatly elongated and extremely flexible body with a small, yet elongated, blunt-muzzled head which is no thicker than the neck. The eyes are small in relation to their head size and are bulging and dark colored. The legs and tail are relatively short, the latter constituting less than half the body length. The feet have sharp, dark-coloured claws, and the soles are heavily haired.[21][22] The skull, especially that of the small rixosa group, has an infantile appearance when compared with that of other members of the genus Mustela (in particular, the stoat and kolonok). This is expressed in the relatively large size of the cranium and shortened facial region.[23] The skull is, overall, similar to that of the stoat, but smaller, though the skulls of large male weasels tend to overlap in size with those of small female stoats.[24] There are usually four pairs of nipples but these are only visible in females. The baculum is short, 16 to 20 mm (0.6 to 0.8 in), with a thick, straight shaft. Fat is deposited along the spine, kidneys, gut mesentries and around the limbs. The least weasel has muscular anal glands under the tail, which measure 7 by 5 mm (0.3 by 0.2 in), and contain sulphurous volatiles, including thietanes and dithiacyclopentanes. The smell and chemical composition of these chemicals are distinct from those of the stoat.[24] The least weasel moves by jumping, the distance between the tracks of the fore and hind limbs being 18 to 35 cm (7 to 14 in).[25]

Weaselskeleton
Skeleton, as illustrated in Lydekker's The New Natural History

Dimensions vary geographically, to an extent rarely found among other mammals. Least weasels of the vulgaris group, for example, may outweigh the smaller races by almost four times. In some large subspecies, the male may be 1.5 times longer than the female. Variations in tail length are also variable, constituting from 13–30% of the length of the body. Average body length in males is 130 to 260 mm (5 to 10 in), while females average 114 to 204 mm (4.5 to 8.0 in). The tail measures 12 to 87 mm (0.5 to 3.4 in) in males and 17 to 60 mm (0.7 to 2.4 in) in females. Males weigh 36 to 250 g (1.3 to 8.8 oz), while females weigh 29 to 117 g (1.0 to 4.1 oz).[26]

Mustela winter
The winter coat is conspicuous when there is no snow on the ground.

The winter fur is dense, but short and closely fitting. In northern subspecies, the fur is soft and silky, but coarse in southern forms. The summer fur is very short, sparser and rougher. The upper parts in the summer fur are dark, but vary geographically from dark-tawny or dark-chocolate to light pale tawny or sandy. The lower parts, including the lower jaw and inner sides of the legs, are white. There is often a brown spot at the corner of the mouth. The dividing line between the dark upper and light lower parts is usually straight but sometimes forms an irregular line. The tail is brown, and sometimes the tip is a little darker but it is never black. In the northern part of its range and at high altitudes, the least weasel changes colour in the winter, the coat becoming pure white and exhibiting a few black hairs in rare circumstances.[23][27]

Behaviour and ecology

Reproduction and development

The least weasel mates in April–July and there is a 34- to 37-day gestation period. In the Northern Hemisphere, the average litter size consists of 6 kits and these reach sexual maturity in 3 to 4 months. Males may mate during their first year of life, though this is usually unsuccessful. They are fecund in February–October, though the early stages of spermatogenesis do occur throughout the winter months. Anestrus in females lasts from September until February.[28]

The female raises its kits without help from the male. They are 1.5 to 4.5 g (0.05 to 0.16 oz) in weight at birth. Newborn kits are born pink, naked, blind and deaf, but gain a white coat of downy fur at the age of 4 days. At 10 days, the margin between the dark upper parts and light under parts becomes visible. The milk teeth erupt at 2 to 3 weeks of age, at which point the young start to eat solid food, though lactation can last 12 weeks. The eyes and ears open at 3 to 4 weeks of age, and by 8 weeks, killing behaviour is developed. The family breaks up after 9 to 12 weeks.[28] There is a single litter each year and least weasels can live for 7 or 8 years.[27]

Territorial and social behaviours

Mustela nivalis (two, fighting)
Two least weasels fighting

The least weasel has a typical mustelid territorial pattern, consisting of exclusive male ranges encompassing multiple female ranges. The population density of each territory depends greatly on food supply and reproductive success, thus the social structure and population density of any given territory is unstable and flexible.[29] Like the stoat, the male least weasel extends its range during spring or during food shortages. Its scent marking behaviour is similar to that of the stoat; it uses faeces, urine and anal and dermal gland secretions, the latter two of which are deposited by anal dragging and body rubbing. The least weasel does not dig its own den, but nests in the abandoned burrow of another species such as a mole or rat.[30] The burrow entrance measures about 2.5 cm (0.98 in) across and leads to the nest chamber located up to 15 cm (5.9 in) below ground. The nest chamber (which is used for sleeping, rearing kits and storing food) measures 10 cm (3.9 in) in diameter, and is lined with straw and the skins of the weasel's prey.[31]

The least weasel has four basic vocalisations; a guttural hiss emitted when alarmed, which is interspersed with short screaming barks and shrieks when provoked. When defensive, it emits a shrill wail or squeal. During encounters between males and females or between a mother and kits, the least weasel emits a high-pitched trilling. The least weasel's way of expressing aggression is similar to that of the stoat. Dominant weasels exhibit lunges and shrieks during aggressive encounters, while subdominant weasels will emit submissive squeals.[30]

Diet

Donnola vs lepre
Taxidermy exhibit showing a least weasel attacking a European hare, in the Natural History Museum of Genoa

The least weasel feeds predominantly on mouse-like rodents, including mice, hamsters, gerbils and others. It usually does not attack adult hamsters and rats. Frogs, fish, small birds and bird eggs are rarely eaten. It can deal with adult pikas and gerbils, but usually cannot overcome brown rats and sousliks. Exceptional cases are known of least weasels killing prey far larger than themselves, such as capercaillie, hazel hen and hares.[32] In England, a favoured prey item is the field vole (Microtus agrestis). These have fluctuations in population size, and in years of abundance may form up to 54% of the weasel's diet. In years of scarcity, birds form a greater proportion of the diet and female least weasels may fail to breed.[33]

Despite its small size, the least weasel is a fierce hunter, capable of killing a rabbit five to ten times its own weight.[34] Although they are commonly taken, the rabbits are usually young specimens, and become an important food source during the spring, when small rodents are scarce and rabbit kits are plentiful. Male least weasels take a higher proportion of rabbits than females, as well as an overall greater variety of prey. This is linked to the fact that being larger, and having vaster territorial ranges than females, males have more opportunities to hunt a greater diversity of prey.[35]

The least weasel forages undercover, to avoid being seen by foxes and birds of prey. It is adapted for pursuing its prey down tunnels, though it may also bolt prey from a burrow and kill it in the open.[35] The least weasel kills small prey, such as voles, with a bite to the occipital region of the skull[32] or the neck, dislocating the cervical vertebrae. Large prey typically dies of blood loss or circulatory shock.[35] When food is abundant, only a small portion of the prey is eaten, usually the brain. The average daily food intake is 35 g (1 oz), which is equivalent to 30–35% of the animal's body weight.[32]

Predators and competitors

Weaselsvsstoat
Least weasels driven from a mountain hare carcass by a stoat, as illustrated in Barrett-Hamilton's A History of British Mammals

The least weasel is small enough to be preyed upon by a range of other predators.[36] Least weasel remains have been found in the excrement of red foxes, sables, steppe and forest polecat, stoats, eagle owls and buzzards.[37] The owls most efficient at capturing least weasels are barn, barred, and great horned owls. Other birds of prey threatening to the least weasel include broad-winged and rough-legged buzzards. Some snake species may prey on the least weasel, including the black rat snake and copperhead.[31] Aside from its smaller size, the least weasel is more vulnerable to predation than the stoat because it lacks a black predator deflection mark on the tail.[36]

In areas where the least weasel is sympatric with the stoat, the two species compete with each other for rodent prey. The weasel manages to avoid too much competition by living in more upland areas, feeding on smaller prey and being capable of entering smaller holes. It actively avoids encounters with stoats, though female weasels are less likely to stop foraging in the presence of stoats, perhaps because their smaller size allows them to quickly escape into holes.[38]

Diseases and parasites

Ectoparasites known to infest weasels include the louse Trichodectes mustelae and the mites Demodex and Psoregates mustela. The species may catch fleas from the nests and burrows of its prey. Flea species known to infest weasels include Ctenophthalmus bisoctodentatus and Palaeopsylla m. minor, which they get from moles, P. s. soricis, which they get from shrews, Nosopsyllus fasciatus, which they get from rodents and Dasypsyllus gallinulae which they get from birds.[36]

Helminths known to infest weasels include the trematode Alaria, the nematodes Capillaria, Filaroides and Trichinella and the cestode Taenia.[36] Least weasels are commonly infected with the nematode Skrjabingylus nasicola, adults of which are found in the nasal sinuses and can damage the skull. There is no evidence that this has serious detrimental effects on even heavily infested animals.[39]

Distribution and habitat

Alaska Weasel
Alaskan weasel Mustela n. eskimo

The least weasel has a circumboreal, Holarctic distribution, encompassing much of Europe and North Africa, Asia and parts of northern North America, where it occurs mainly in places where the stoat is not found, and has recently been extirpated from New York. It has been introduced in New Zealand, Malta, Crete, the Azore Islands and also São Tomé off west Africa. It is found throughout Europe and on many islands, including the Azores, Britain (but not Ireland), and all major Mediterranean islands.[40] It also occurs on Honshu and Hokkaido islands in Japan and on Kunashir, Iturup, and Sakhalin Islands in Russia.[1]

The least weasel occupies a similar type of habitat as the stoat but it less often frequents wet places. It can be found in fields, open woodland, bushy or rocky areas, parks and gardens, and at altitudes of up to about 3,000 metres (9,800 ft).[27]

Conservation status

The least weasel has a very wide circumboreal range and a large total population and is therefore listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being of "least concern". Its chosen habitat is in areas of coarse vegetation and in some regions its numbers may be decreasing because of changes in agricultural practices, but altogether its population trend is thought to be steady. It is relatively common in Eurasia but less abundant in North America and is thought to be rare in the southeastern United States. It is subject to considerable variations in numbers in areas where its main rodent prey is liable to large population fluctuations. In years of rodent population booms, the least weasel numbers may rise by up to ten-fold, only to slump again as prey becomes scarce again in the following years.[1]

In folklore and mythology

Wenceslas Hollar - The basilisk and the weasel
17th century print of a weasel confronting a basilisk

The Ancient Macedonians believed that to see a least weasel was a good omen. In some districts of Macedon, women who suffered from headaches after having washed their heads in water drawn overnight would assume that a weasel had previously used the water as a mirror, but they would refrain from mentioning the animal's name for fear that it would destroy their clothes. Similarly, a popular superstition in southern Greece had it that the least weasel had previously been a bride, who was transformed into a bitter animal which would destroy the wedding dresses of other brides out of jealousy.[41] According to Pliny the Elder, the least weasel is the only animal capable of killing the basilisk;

To this dreadful monster the effluvium of the weasel is fatal, a thing that has been tried with success, for kings have often desired to see its body when killed; so true is it that it has pleased Nature that there should be nothing without its antidote. The animal is thrown into the hole of the basilisk, which is easily known from the soil around it being infected. The weasel destroys the basilisk by its odour, but dies itself in this struggle of nature against its own self.[42]

The Ojibwe believed that the least weasel could kill the dreaded wendigo giant by rushing up its anus.[43] In Inuit mythology, the least weasel is credited with both great wisdom and courage, and whenever a mythical Inuit hero wished to accomplish a valorous task, he would generally change himself into a least weasel.[44] According to Matthew Hopkins, a witch hunter general during the English Civil War, least weasels were the familiars of witches.[45]

References

  1. ^ a b c Tikhonov, A.; Cavallini, P.; Maran, T.; Kranz, A.; Herrero, J.; Giannatos, G.; Stubbe, M.; Conroy, J.; Kryštufek, B.; Abramov, A.; et al. (2008). "Mustela nivalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  2. ^ Shorter Oxford English dictionary. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 2007. p. 3804. ISBN 0-19-920687-2.
  3. ^ Sarah McPherson (29 January 2015). "What's the world's smallest carnivore?". Discover Wildlife. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  4. ^ Valkenburgh, Blaire Van; Wayne, Robert K. (2010-11-09). "Carnivores". Current Biology. 20 (21): R915–R919. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.09.013. ISSN 0960-9822.
  5. ^ LONG JL 2003. Introduced Mammals of the World: Their History, Distribution and Influence (Cabi Publishing) by John L. Long (ISBN 9780851997483)
  6. ^ Wilson, Don E.; Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 12. JHU Press. pp. 616–617. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0.
  7. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 972
  8. ^ Kurtén 1968, pp. 102–103
  9. ^ Macdonald 1992, p. 205
  10. ^ a b c d Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 975–978
  11. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 982
  12. ^ Rhoades, Samuel M. (1900). "A New Weasel from Western Pennsylvania". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 52: 751–754. JSTOR 4062685.
  13. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 980
  14. ^ Swenk, Myron H. (1926). "Notes on Mustela campestris Jackson, and on the American Forms of Least Weasels". Journal of Mammalogy. 7 (4): 313–330. doi:10.2307/1373581. JSTOR 1373581.
  15. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 981
  16. ^ Kuroda, Nagamichi (1921). "On Three New Mammals from Japan". Journal of Mammalogy. 2 (4): 208–211. doi:10.2307/1373554. JSTOR 1373554.
  17. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 984
  18. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 978
  19. ^ Merriam 1896, pp. 14–15
  20. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 983
  21. ^ Fergus, Chuck. "Weasels" (PDF). Pennsylvania Game Commission. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  22. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 967–969
  23. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 969
  24. ^ a b Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 468
  25. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 991
  26. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 970–972
  27. ^ a b c Konig, Claus (1973). Mammals. Collins & Co. p. 167. ISBN 978-0-00-212080-7.
  28. ^ a b Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 474
  29. ^ Erlinge, S. (1974). "Distribution, Territoriality and Numbers of the Weasel Mustela nivalis in Relation to Prey Abundance". Oikos. 25 (3): 308–314. JSTOR 3543948.
  30. ^ a b Harris & Yalden 2008, pp. 471–472
  31. ^ a b Merritt & Matinko 1987, p. 277
  32. ^ a b c Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 987–988
  33. ^ Tapper, Stephen (1979). "The Effect of Fluctuating Vole Numbers (Microtus agrestis) on a Population of Weasels (Mustela nivalis) on Farmland". Animal Ecology. 48 (2): 603–617. JSTOR 4182.
  34. ^ Macdonald 1992, p. 208
  35. ^ a b c Harris & Yalden 2008, pp. 472–473
  36. ^ a b c d Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 475
  37. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 992
  38. ^ Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 469
  39. ^ King, Carolyn M. (1977). "The effects of the nematode parasite Skrjabingylus nasicola on British weasels (Mustela nivalis)". Journal of Zoology. 182 (2): 225–249. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1977.tb04157.x.
  40. ^ Rodrigues, M.; et al. (2016). "Origin and introduction history of the Least Weasels (Mustela nivalis) on Mediterranean and Atlantic islands inferred from genetic data". Biological Invasions. 19: 399–421. doi:10.1007/s10530-016-1287-y.
  41. ^ Abbott, G. A. (1903), Macedonian Folklore, pp. 108–109, Cambridge University Press
  42. ^ Pliny the Elder (1855). John Bostock; Henry Thomas Riley, eds. "The Natural History". Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  43. ^ Barnouw, Victor (1979) Wisconsin Chippewa Myths & Tales: And Their Relation to Chippewa Life, pp. 53, University of Wisconsin Press, ISBN 0-299-07314-9
  44. ^ Dufresne, Frank (2005), Alaska's Animals and Fishes, pp. 109, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 1-4179-8416-3
  45. ^ Summers, Montague (2005) Geography of Witchcraft, pp. 29, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 0-7661-4536-0

Bibliography

  • Harris, Stephen; Yalden, Derek (2008). Mammals of the British Isles (4th Revised ed.). Mammal Society. ISBN 0-906282-65-9.
  • Kurtén, Björn (1968). "Pleistocene mammals of Europe". Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
  • Heptner, V. G.; Sludskii, A. A. (2002). Mammals of the Soviet Union. Vol. II, part 1b, Carnivores (Mustelidae and Procyonidae). Washington, D.C. : Smithsonian Institution Libraries and National Science Foundation. ISBN 90-04-08876-8.
  • Macdonald, David (1992). "The Velvet Claw: A Natural History of the Carnivores". New York: Parkwest. ISBN 0-563-20844-9.
  • Merriam, Clinton Hart (1896). Synopsis of the weasels of North America. Washington : Govt. Print. Off.
  • Merritt, Joseph F.; Matinko, Ruth Anne (1987). Guide to the mammals of Pennsylvania. University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 0-8229-5393-5.

Further reading

External links

Calumet Region

The Calumet Region is the geographic area drained by the Grand Calumet River and the Little Calumet River of northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana in the United States. It is part of the Great Lakes Basin, which eventually reaches the Atlantic Ocean. It is a sub-region of the greater Northwest Indiana region and the even larger Great Lakes region.

This region includes the northern parts of Lake and Porter counties and the western portion of La Porte county in Indiana, as well as the eastern counties of northern Illinois, Will and Cook.Since much of this region is on the south shore of Lake Michigan, it is sometimes referred to as the "South Shore". Because it was initially cut off from the rest of the state due to natural geographic barriers like the Kankakee Marsh to the south, the Calumet Region was the last-settled portion of Indiana.The area is known for its industrial heritage and history as a center for production of steel, minerals and chemicals. The toxic byproducts of these industries present major issues for public safety and natural resource management today. The region was a center for the labor rights movement of the 1930s. The Memorial Day massacre of 1937, where ten steelworkers' rights activists were killed by police officers during a demonstration, occurred on Chicago's southeast side.Today, Calumet is notable as a site of many habitat restoration projects. The area contains many endangered dune, Swale, and moraine based ecosystems. Many Forest Preserve District of Cook County sites, such as Powderhorn Prairie, 95th/Dan Ryan Woods, and Eggers Grove are being restored under the care of volunteer stewards. In addition, nonprofit groups partner with the Forest Preserve District and Chicago Park District to complete larger-scale restoration projects. Major partners include The Field Museum, the Wetlands Initiative, and local branches of The Nature Conservancy, Green Corps and the Student Conservation Association. Many of these sites have become host to locally rare and threatened species like Blanding's turtle, Wilson's phalarope and the least weasel.

Carnivora

Carnivora (; from Latin carō (stem carn-) "flesh" and vorāre "to devour") is a diverse scrotiferan order that includes over 280 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, whereas the word "carnivore" (often popularly applied to members of this group) can refer to any meat-eating organism. Carnivorans are the most diverse in size of any mammalian order, ranging from the least weasel (Mustela nivalis), at as little as 25 g (0.88 oz) and 11 cm (4.3 in), to the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), which can weigh up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb), to the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), whose adult males weigh up to 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) and measure up to 6.7 m (22 ft) in length.

Carnivorans have teeth and claws adapted for catching and eating other animals. Many hunt in packs and are social animals, giving them an advantage over larger prey. Some carnivorans, such as cats and pinnipeds, depend entirely on meat for their nutrition. Others, such as raccoons and bears, are more omnivorous, depending on the habitat. The giant panda is largely a herbivore, but also feeds on fish, eggs and insects. The polar bear subsists mainly on seals.

Carnivorans are split into two suborders: Feliformia ("catlike") and Caniformia ("doglike").

Colombian weasel

Colombian weasel (Mustela felipei), also known as the Don Felipe's weasel, is a very rare species of weasel only known with certainty from the departments of Huila and Cauca in Colombia and nearby northern Ecuador (where only known from a single specimen). Both its scientific and alternative common name honours the mammalogist Philip "Don Felipe" Hershkovitz.It appears to be largely restricted to riparian habitats at an altitude of 1,100 to 2,700 m (3,600 to 8,900 ft). There is extensive deforestation within its limited distribution within the northern Andes of Colombia and Ecuador, and with less than ten known specimens, it is probably the rarest carnivoran in South America. It is considered vulnerable by the IUCN.It is the second smallest living carnivore on average, being only slightly larger than the least weasel (Mustela nivalis) and slightly smaller than the ermine or stoat (M. erminea). The upperparts and tail are blackish-brown, while the underparts are orange-buff.

Egyptian weasel

The Egyptian weasel (Mustela subpalmata) is a species of weasel that lives in northern Egypt. It is rated "Least Concern" by the IUCN Red List.

Het Groene Woud

Het Groene Woud (The Green Forest) is a special area of the Netherlands which is located in North Brabant between the cities of Tilburg, Eindhoven and 's-Hertogenbosch. It includes nature reserves such as the Kampina, the Oisterwijk forests and fens, Velderbos and the Dommel.

In 2004 "Het Groene Woud" is designated by the government as a National Landscape. This is to prevent the area between the three large cities from becoming more urbanized.

The combination of nature, sustainable agriculture and environmental recreation form a valuable cultural and historical landscape. "Het Groene Woud" covers a total of 7,500 hectares of marshes, meadows and agricultural landscape. It covers the municipalities Boxtel, Sint-Oedenrode, Schijndel, Sint-Michielsgestel, Best, Oirschot, Oisterwijk, Haaren and Vught.

In Het Groene Woud, many species of mammals can be encountered:

These include: roe deer, European badger, Eurasian harvest mouse, European polecat, European water vole, European hedgehog, Eurasian red squirrel, common pipistrelle, European hare, brown long-eared bat, stoat, serotine bat, European mole, Natterer's bat, least weasel, red fox, Daubenton's bat, beech marten and several species of shrew, dormice, apodemus and arvicolinae.

In the near future will possibly red deers be re-introduced in the area.

Hiking, canoeing and cycling activities are possible in this area.

Kuda-gitsune

Kuda-gitsune or Kanko (管狐, "pipe fox") is a type of spirit possession in Japanese legends. Starting in Nagano Prefecture, it is told about in the Chūbu region and also in parts of the Tōkai region, southern Kantō region, Tōhoku region, and so on. There are no legends of kudagitsune in Kantō besides the Chiba Prefecture and Kanagawa Prefecture, and this is said to be because Kantō is the domain of the osaki.Just like its name says, there are various legends about how they are the size small enough to fit into a bamboo pipe or a size about as big as a match box and would multiply until there were 75 of them, and so on.Another name for them is "izuna" (飯綱, meaning least weasel), and psychics in Niigata, the Chūbu region, and the Kantō region and "izuna-tsukai" (飯綱使い, "izuna-users") in Shinshū have these and use them to gain supernatural powers and make divinations. It is believed that izuna-tsukai (izuna-users) make use of izuna for beneficial religious uses such as foretelling prophecies, and at the same time also for evil purposes such as to fulfill requests to make the izuna go possess and give illness to someone the requester hates.

Sometimes it is told to be a type of kitsune-tsuki and depending on the region, families that have kudagitsune could sometimes be called "kuda-mochi" ("kuda"-haver), "kuda-ya" ("kuda"-proprietor), "kuda-tsukai" ("kuda"-user), and "kuda-shō" and be detested. In many legends, kudagitsune do not possess an individual, but instead a family, and it is thought that one particular trait that they have is that unlike the osaki that would do things on its own even if its master did not will it, the kudagitsune is to be "used" by its master and does as its master wills it to do. It is said that the kudagitsune, following the master's will, would procure goods from other families, so a family that keeps and raises a kudagitsune would gradually grow wealthy, but it is also said that although the family does grow wealthy at first, the kudagitsune would multiply until there were 75 of them, and so they would eventually eat away at the family's wealth making them decline.Kuda-gitsune or Kanko (管狐, "pipe fox") is a creature supposedly employed by Japanese kitsune-tsukai, those who use foxes as spirit familiars. Its use is described in various books, as follows:

In the Sōzan Chomon Kishū (想山著聞奇集) the kuda-gitsune is described as a rat-sized fox which can be kept in a pipe.

List of mammals of Norway

List of mammals with non-domesticated populations in Norway.

Listrophorus

Listrophorus is a genus of parasitic mites in the family Listrophoridae. North American species with their hosts include:

Listrophorus americanus – muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

Listrophorus caudatus – round-tailed muskrat (Neofiber alleni)

Listrophorus dicrostonyx – collared lemming (Dicrostonyx)

Listrophorus dozieri – muskrat; Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana)

Listrophorus faini – muskrat

Listrophorus floridanus – southeastern pocket gopher (Geomys pinetis)

Listrophorus kingstownensis – muskrat

Listrophorus klebergi – hispid pocket mouse (Chaetodipus hispidus); hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus)

Listrophorus laynei – round-tailed muskrat

Listrophorus leuckarti – meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus); house mouse (Mus musculus)

Listrophorus mexicanus – sagebrush vole (Lemmiscus curtatus); rock vole (Microtus chrotorrhinus); montane vole (Microtus montanus); prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster); creeping vole (Microtus oregoni); meadow vole; water vole (Microtus richardsoni); Townsend's vole (Microtus townsendii); western red-backed vole (Myodes californicus); southern red-backed vole (Myodes gapperi); southern bog lemming (Synaptomys cooperi); white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus); house mouse; woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis); meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius); western jumping mouse (Zapus princeps); least weasel (Mustela nivalis); pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus); Townsend's mole (Scapanus townsendii); marsh shrew (Sorex bendirii); long-tailed shrew (Sorex dispar)

Listrophorus neotomae – Florida woodrat (Neotoma floridana); southern Plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus)

Listrophorus ondatrae – muskrat

Listrophorus phenacomys – eastern heather vole (Phenacomys ungava)

Listrophorus pitymys – northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda); meadow vole; pine vole (Microtus pinetorum)

Listrophorus sparsilineatus – cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus)

Listrophorus synaptomys – northern bog lemming (Synaptomys borealis); southern bog lemming

Listrophorus validus – muskratAn unidentified species has been recorded on the marsh rice rat (Oryzomys palustris) in Georgia.

Monte Conero

Monte Conero (Mount Conero), also known as Monte d'Ancona; Italian pronunciation: [ˈkɔːnero], is a promontory in Italy, situated directly south of the port of Ancona on the Adriatic Sea.

The name Conero comes from the Greek name Komaròs and indicates the strawberry tree which is common on the slopes of the mountain. Mount Conero is 572 metres high and it is the only coastal high point on the Adriatic sea between Trieste and the Gargano massif in the region of Apulia.

Since 1987 it has been a state park and a protected ecological area (Regional Park) with 18 trails and several archeological/historical sites. Wildlife include Eurasian badger, beech marten, least weasel, yellow-bellied toad, peregrine falcon, kingfisher and pallid swift. Apart the strawberry tree, vegetation include oak, holm oak, Aleppo pine, Cupressus sempervirens and many others.

Other comuni near the mountain include Sirolo and Numana.

Montiferru

Montiferru is a historical region of central-western Sardinia, Italy. It takes its name from the eponymous extinct volcano massif, whose main peak is the Monte Urtigu (1,050 m). Extending for some 700 km², the massif had originally a maximum elevation of c. 1,600/1,700 m, later reduced due to erosion.

The volcanic origin of the area is testified by the basaltic rocks of the seaside. Water sources are frequent, rivers from the area including the Rio Mannu.

The economy is essentially rural, based on agriculture and animal husbandry. Flora goes from the Mediterranean shrubland of the coast to olive and fruit trees in the mainland, up to pine and oaks in the more elevated parts. Wildlife include wild boar, fox, Sardinian hare, European hedgehog, least weasel, marten, the rare Sardinian wildcat, vulture, carrion crow, peregrine falcon, hoopoe, little owl, Eurasian scops owl and others.

Mustelidae

The Mustelidae (; from Latin mustela, weasel) are a family of carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, mink, and wolverines, among others. Mustelids are diverse and the largest family in the order Carnivora, suborder Caniformia. Mustelidae comprises about 56-60 species across eight subfamilies.

Mustelinae

Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).

Saab 90

Saab 90 is also the name of an aeroplane, the Saab 90 Scandia.The Saab 90 is a compact executive car from Saab made from September 1984 to 1987. It was manufactured at a facility in Uusikaupunki (Nystad), Finland, at that time owned by Saab and Valmet. The 90 was a continuation of the Saab 99 and it was basically a Saab 99 from the B-pillar forward with the rear of a Saab 900 sedan. The 90, while easier to build than the 99, was still considerably more labour intensive than the more modern 900.The 900's rear end made the trunk and fuel tank larger than in the 99, while keeping the car smaller than the 900. It was only available as a two-door sedan and came with the 2.0 L Saab H engine, giving 100 hp (74 kW). It was available with both four and a five-speed manual transmissions, with the five-speed receiving closer gearing, front and rear spoilers, and lower profile tires. The valve seats were hardened so it could run on unleaded fuel. It also had a new starter motor, and the steering wheel was more upright than the one in the 99.

In 1986 it underwent some minor cosmetic changes and was fitted with modified shock absorbers. In 1987 the Zenith carburettor was altered to make it easier to start in cold weather. Falling sales meant that it was not worth the investment to catalyze the engine and 1987 was the final year for the model, with the last car built on 1 July (and immediately dispatched to Saab's museum). In total, only 25,360 Saab 90s were made. It was sold in a limited number of European countries only.

A limited edition of ten Saab 90 Lumikko was made for the Finnish market. These models were all white and had extra trim. Lumikko is Finnish for least weasel (Mustela nivalis), known as Snow weasel in Scandinavia.

Setun River's Valley wildlife sanctuary

Setun River's Valley (Russian: Долина реки «Сетунь») is the largest wildlife sanctuary within the Moscow bounds. The sanctuary territory is located along the course of the Setun River. The Setun River's flow is entirely within the Western Administrative Okrug of the city.

The fauna is represented by the least weasel, stoat, Eurasian water shrew, and muskrat.

It was founded in 1998.

Stoat

The stoat (Mustela erminea), also known as the short-tailed weasel or simply the weasel in Ireland where the least weasel does not live, is a mammal of the genus Mustela of the family Mustelidae native to Eurasia and North America, distinguished from the least weasel by its larger size and longer tail with a prominent black tip. Originally from Eurasia, it crossed into North America some 500,000 years ago, where it naturalized and joined the notably larger, closely related native long-tailed weasel.

The name ermine is used for any species in the genus Mustela, especially the stoat, in its pure white winter coat, or the fur thereof. In the late 19th century, stoats were introduced into New Zealand to control rabbits, where they have had a devastating effect on native bird populations.

The stoat is classed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as least concern, due to its wide circumpolar distribution, and because it does not face any significant threat to its survival. It was nominated as one of the world's top 100 "worst invaders".Ermine luxury fur was used in the 15th century by Catholic monarchs, who sometimes used it as the mozzetta cape. It was also used in capes on images such as the Infant Jesus of Prague.

Villafranchian

Villafranchian age is a period of geologic time (3.5—1.0 Ma) overlapping the end of the Pliocene and the beginning of the Pleistocene used more specifically with European Land Mammal Ages. Named by Italian geologist Lorenzo Pareto for a sequence of terrestrial sediments studied near Villafranca d'Asti, a town near Turin, it succeeds the Ruscinian age.

The Villafranchian is sub-divided into six faunal units based on the localities of Triversa, Montopoli, Saint-Vallier, Olivola, Tasso and Farnetta.A major division of both geological deposits and time, the Villafranchian is significant because the earliest hominids that clearly evolved into modern man (the australopithecines) appeared within it. The Villafranchian is partially contemporaneous with the Blancan Stage of North America.Many animals and their extinct ancestors evolved during the Villafranchian, including the Red fox, Least weasel, Moorhen, Etruscan bear, and Tuscany lion.

Weasel

A weasel is a mammal of the genus Mustela of the family Mustelidae. The genus Mustela includes the least weasels, polecats, stoats, ferrets and minks. Members of this genus are small, active predators, with long and slender bodies and short legs. The family Mustelidae (which also includes badgers, otters, and wolverines) is often referred to as the "weasel family". In the UK, the term "weasel" usually refers to the smallest species, the least weasel (M. nivalis).Weasels vary in length from 173 to 217 mm (6.8 to 8.5 in), females being smaller than the males, and usually have red or brown upper coats and white bellies; some populations of some species moult to a wholly white coat in winter. They have long, slender bodies, which enable them to follow their prey into burrows. Their tails may be from 34 to 52 mm (1.3 to 2.0 in) long.Weasels feed on small mammals and have from time to time been considered vermin because some species took poultry from farms or rabbits from commercial warrens. They do, on the other hand, eat large numbers of rodents. They can be found all across the world except for Antarctica, Australia, and neighbouring islands.

Subspecies Trinomial authority Description Range Synonyms
Common weasel
Mustela n. nivalis

(Nominate subspecies) Mustelanivalisnivalis

Linnaeus, 1766 A medium-sized subspecies with a tail of moderate length, constituting about 20–21% of its body length. In its summer fur, the upper body is dark-brownish or chestnut colour, while its winter fur is pure white. It is probably a transitional form between the small pygmaea and large vulgaris[11] Middle regions of European Russia, from the Baltic states to the middle and southern Urals, northward approximately to the latitude of Saint Petersburg and Perm, and south to the Kursk and Voronezh Oblasts. Outside the former Soviet Union, its range includes Northern Europe (excluding Ireland and Iceland) save for Finland and parts of the Scandinavian Peninsula caraftensis (Kishida, 1936)

kerulenica (Bannikov, 1952)
punctata (Domaniewski, 1926)
yesoidsuna (Kishida, 1936)

Allegheny weasel
Mustela n. allegheniensis
Rhoads, 1901 Similar to Mustela n. rixosa, but is larger, has a broad skull and darker coat, and is more adapted to live in deciduous forests.[12] Southeastern United States (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Indiana)
Transcaucasian weasel
Mustela n. boccamela

Mustela-nivalis

Bechstein, 1800 A very large subspecies, with a long tail constituting about 30% of its body length. In its summer fur, the upper body is light brownish or chestnut with yellowish or reddish tints, with some individuals having a brownish dot on the corners of the mouth and sometimes on the chest and belly. The winter fur is not pure white, being usually dirty white with brown patches[13] Transcaucasia, southern Europe, Asia Minor and probably western Iran italicus (Barrett-Hamilton, 1900)
Plains weasel
Mustela n. campestris
Jackson, 1913 Southwestern USA (South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas)
Mustela n. caucasica Barrett-Hamilton, 1900 dinniki (Satunin, 1907)
Mustela n. eskimo

Least Weasel (3766818218)

Stone, 1900 A small subspecies. Resembles Mustela n. rixosa, but has a duller colour, a larger skull and shorter tail.[14] Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories
Turkmenian weasel
Mustela n. heptneri
Morozova-Turova, 1953 A very large subspecies with a long tail constituting about 25–30% of its body length. In its summer fur, the upper body is very light sandy brown or pale-yellowish. The fur is short, sparse and coarse, and does not turn white in winter[15] Semideserts and deserts of southern Kazakhstan and Middle Asia from the Caspian Sea to Semirechye, southern Tajikistan, Koppet Dag, Afghanistan and northeastern Iran
Japanese weasel
Mustela n. namiyei
Kuroda, 1921 Smaller than Mustela n. rixosa and paler than Mustela n. eskimo. Resembles Mustela n. pygmaea but the head and body are longer and the tail considerably longer.[16] Japan
Mediterranean weasel
Mustela n. numidica

Mustelanivalisiberica

Pucheran, 1855 Largest subspecies Morocco, Algeria, Malta, Azores Islands and Corsica albipes (Mina Palumbo, 1868)

algiricus (Thomas, 1895)
atlas (Barrett-Hamilton, 1904)
corsicanus (Cavazza, 1908)
fulva (Mina Palumbo, 1908)
galanthias (Bate, 1905)
ibericus (Barrett-Hamilton, 1900)
meridionalis (Costa, 1869)
siculus (Barrett-Hamilton, 1900)

Montane Turkestan weasel
Mustela n. pallida
Barrett-Hamilton, 1900 A medium-sized subspecies with a tail constituting about 24% of its body length. The colour of the summer fur is light-brownish, while the winter fur is white[17] Montane parts of Turkmenia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kirgizia, as well as Chinese parts of the same mountain systems and perhaps in the extreme eastern parts of Hindukush
Siberian least weasel
Mustela n. pygmaea
J. A. Allen, 1903 A very small subspecies, with a short tail which constitutes about 13% of its body length. In its summer coat, the dorsal colour is dark-brown or reddish, while the winter fur is entirely white[18] All of Siberia, except southern nd southeastern Transbaikalia; northern and middle Urals, northern Kazakhstan and the Russian Far East including Sakhalin and Kuril Islands and Korean Peninsulas, all of Mongolia save for the eastern part and probably northeastern China kamtschatica (Dybowksi, 1922)
Bangs' weasel
Mustela n. rixosa

Mustela nivalis (two, fighting)

Bangs, 1896 The smallest subspecies. In its summer coat, the fur is dark reddish brown, while the winter fur is pure white[19] Nunavut, Labrador, Quebec, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia
Sichuan weasel
Mustela n. russelliana
Thomas, 1911 Sichuan, southern China
Middle-European weasel
Mustela n. vulgaris

06501

Erxleben, 1777 A somewhat larger subspecies than nivalis, with a longer tail which constitutes about 27% of its body length. In its summer fur, the upper body varies from being light-brownish to dark-chestnut, while the winter fur is white in its northern range and piebald in its southern range[20] Southern European Russia from the latitude of southern Voronezh and Kursk districts, Crimea, Ciscaucasia, northern slope of the main Caucasus, eastward to the Volga. Outside the former Soviet Union, its range includes Europe southward to the Alps and Pyrenees dumbrowskii (Matschie, 1901)

hungarica (Vásárhelyi, 1942)
minutus (Pomel, 1853)
monticola (Cavazza, 1908)
nikolskii (Semenov, 1899)
occidentalis (Kratochvil, 1977)
trettaui (Kleinschmidt, 1937)
vasarhelyi (Kretzoi, 1942)

Extant Carnivora species

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