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.[2] 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.[1] It was nominated as one of the world's top 100 "worst invaders".[3]

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.

Stoat
Mustela erminea upright
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Mustela
Species:
M. erminea
Binomial name
Mustela erminea
Stoat area
Stoat range

     native      introduced

Etymology

The root word for "stoat" is likely either the Dutch word stout ("naughty")[4] or the Gothic word 𐍃𐍄𐌰𐌿𐍄𐌰𐌽 (stautan, "to push").[5] According to John Guillim, in his Display of Heraldrie, the word "ermine" is likely derived from Armenia, the nation where it was thought the species originated,[4] though other authors have linked it to the Norman French from the Teutonic harmin (Anglo-Saxon hearma). This seems to come from the Lithuanian word šarmu.[5] In Ireland (where the least weasel does not occur), the stoat is referred to as a weasel, while in North America it is called a short-tailed weasel. A male stoat is called a dog, hob or jack, while a female is called a jill. The collective noun for stoats is either gang or pack.[6]

Evolution

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 stoat's direct ancestor was Mustela palerminea, a common carnivore in central and eastern Europe during the Middle Pleistocene,[7] that spread to North America during the late Blancan or early Irvingtonian.[8] The stoat 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 stoat's ancestors were larger than the current form, and underwent a reduction in size as they exploited the new food source. The stoat first arose in Eurasia, shortly after the long-tailed weasel arose as its mirror image in North America 2 million years ago. The stoat 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. The stoat and the long-tailed weasel remained separated until 500,000 years ago, when falling sea levels exposed the Bering land bridge.[9]

Combined phylogenetic analyses indicate the stoat's closest living relative is the mountain weasel (Mustela altaica), though it is also closely related to the least weasel (Mustela nivalis) and long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata). Its next closest relatives are the New World Colombian weasel (Mustela felipei) and the Amazon weasel (Mustela africana).[10]

Subspecies

As of 2005,[11] 37 subspecies are recognized.

Physical description

Build

Stoat and weasel (cropped)
Stoat (left) and least weasel (right) pelts—note the stoat's larger size and black tail-tip
Weasel (Mustela erminea)
Skeleton

The stoat is entirely similar to the least weasel in general proportions, manner of posture, and movement, though the tail is relatively longer, always exceeding a third of the body length,[21] though it is shorter than that of the long-tailed weasel. The stoat has an elongated neck, the head being set exceptionally far in front of the shoulders. The trunk is nearly cylindrical, and does not bulge at the abdomen. The greatest circumference of body is little more than half its length.[22] The skull, although very similar to that of the least weasel, is relatively longer, with a narrower braincase. The projections of the skull and teeth are weakly developed, but stronger than those of the least weasel.[23] The eyes are round, black and protrude slightly. The whiskers are brown or white in colour, and very long. The ears are short, rounded and lie almost flattened against the skull. The claws are not retractable, and are large in proportion to the digits. Each foot has five toes. The male stoat has a curved baculum with a proximal knob that increases in weight as it ages.[24] Fat is deposited primarily along the spine and kidneys, then on gut mesenteries, under the limbs and around the shoulders. The stoat has four pairs of nipples, though they are visible only in females.[24]

The dimensions of the stoat are variable, but not as significantly as the least weasel's.[25] Unusual among the Carnivora, the size of stoats tends to decrease proportionally with latitude, in contradiction to Bergmann's rule.[7] Sexual dimorphism in size is pronounced, with males being roughly 25% larger than females and 1.5-2.0 times their weight.[17] On average, males measure 187–325 mm (7.4–12.8 in) in body length, while females measure 170–270 mm (6.7–10.6 in). The tail measures 75–120 mm (3.0–4.7 in) in males and 65–106 mm (2.6–4.2 in) in females. In males, the hind foot measures 40.0–48.2 mm (1.57–1.90 in), while in females it is 37.0–47.6 mm (1.46–1.87 in). The height of the ear measures 18.0–23.2 mm (0.71–0.91 in) in males and 14.0–23.3 mm (0.55–0.92 in). The skulls of males measure 39.3–52.2 mm (1.55–2.06 in) in length, while those of females measure 35.7–45.8 mm (1.41–1.80 in). Males average 258 grams (9.1 oz) in weight, while females weigh less than 180 grams (6.3 oz).[25]

The stoat has large anal scent glands measuring 8.5 mm × 5 mm (0.33 in × 0.20 in) in males and smaller in females. Scent glands are also present on the cheeks, belly and flanks.[24] Epidermal secretions, which are deposited during body rubbing, are chemically distinct from the products of the anal scent glands, which contain a higher proportion of volatile chemicals. When attacked or being aggressive, the stoat secretes the contents of its anal glands, giving rise to a strong, musky odour produced by several sulphuric compounds. The odour is distinct from that of least weasels.[26]

Fur

Mustela erminea winter cropped
A stoat in winter fur

The winter fur is very dense and silky, but quite closely lying and short, while the summer fur is rougher, shorter and sparse.[21] In summer, the fur is sandy-brown on the back and head and a white below. The division between the dark back and the light belly is usually straight, though this trait is only present in 13.5% of Irish stoats. The stoat moults twice a year. In spring, the moult is slow, starting from the forehead, across the back, toward the belly. In autumn, the moult is quicker, progressing in the reverse direction. The moult, initiated by photoperiod, starts earlier in autumn and later in spring at higher latitudes. In the stoat's northern range, it adopts a completely white coat (save for the black tail-tip) during the winter period.[24] Differences in the winter and summer coats are less apparent in southern forms of the species.[27] In the species' southern range, the coat remains brown, but is denser and sometimes paler than in summer.[24]

Behaviour

Reproduction and development

Mustela.erminea.young
Young stoat

In the Northern Hemisphere, mating occurs in the April–July period. In spring, the male's testes are enlarged, a process accompanied by an increase of testosterone concentration in the plasma. Spermatogenesis occurs in December, and the males are fertile from May to August, after which the testes regress.[28] Stoats are not monogamous, with litters often being of mixed paternity. The gestation period lasts circa 280 days. Copulation can last as long as 1 hour.[29] Males play no part in rearing the young, which are born blind, deaf, toothless and covered in fine white or pinkish down. The milk teeth erupt after three weeks, and solid food is eaten after four weeks. The eyes open after five to six weeks, with the black tail-tip appearing a week later. Lactation ends after 12 weeks. Prior to the age of five to seven weeks, kits have poor thermoregulation, so they huddle for warmth when the mother is absent. Males become sexually mature at 10–11 months, while females are sexually mature at the age of 2–3 weeks whilst still blind, deaf and hairless, and are usually mated with adult males before being weaned.[30]

Territorial and sheltering behaviours

Stoat territoriality has a generally mustelid spacing pattern, with male territories encompassing smaller female territories, which they defend from other males. The size of the territory and the ranging behaviour of its occupants varies seasonally, depending on the abundance of food and mates. During the breeding season, the ranges of females remain unchanged, while males either become roamers, strayers or transients. Dominant older males have territories 50 times larger than those of younger, socially inferior males. Both sexes mark their territories with urine, faeces and two types of scent marks; anal drags are meant to convey territorial occupancy, and body rubbing is associated with agonistic encounters.[26]

The stoat does not dig its own burrows, instead using the burrows and nest chambers of the rodents it kills. The skins and underfur of rodent prey are used to line the nest chamber. The nest chamber is sometimes located in seemingly unsuitable places, such as among logs piled against the walls of houses. The stoat also inhabits old and rotting stumps, under tree roots, in heaps of brushwood, haystacks, in bog hummocks, in the cracks of vacant mud buildings, in rock piles, rock clefts, and even in magpie nests. Males and females typically live apart, but close to each other.[31] Each stoat has several dens dispersed within its range. A single den has several galleries, mainly within 30 cm (12 in) of the surface.[32]

Diet

Stoat killing a rabbit
Stoat killing a European rabbit
Stoat and chipmunks
Stoat surplus killing a family of chipmunks, as illustrated by Ernest Thompson Seton

As with the least weasel, mouse-like rodents predominate in the stoat's diet. However, unlike the least weasel, which almost exclusively feeds on small voles, the stoat regularly preys on larger rodent and lagomorph species, and will take down individuals far larger than itself. In Russia, its prey includes rodents and lagomorphs such as European water voles, common hamsters, pikas, and others, which it overpowers in their burrows. Prey species of secondary importance include small birds, fish, and shrews and, more rarely, amphibians, lizards, and insects.[33] In Great Britain, European rabbits are an important food source, with the frequency in which stoats prey on them having increased between the 1960s and mid 1990s since the end of the myxomatosis epidemic. Typically, male stoats prey on rabbits more frequently than females do, which depend to a greater extent on smaller rodent species. British stoats rarely kill shrews, rats, squirrels and water voles, though rats may be an important food source locally. In Ireland, shrews and rats are frequently eaten. In mainland Europe, water voles make up a large portion of the stoat's diet. Hares are sometimes taken, but are usually young specimens.[34] In North America, where the ecological niche for rat and rabbit sized prey is taken by the larger long-tailed weasel, the stoat preys on mice, voles, shrews, and young cottontails.[35] In New Zealand, the stoat feeds principally on birds, including the rare kiwi, kaka, mohua, yellow-crowned parakeet, and New Zealand dotterel.[34] Cases are known of stoats preying on young muskrats. The stoat typically eats about 50 grams (1.8 oz) of food a day, which is equivalent to 25% of the animal's live weight.[36]

The stoat is an opportunistic predator, which moves rapidly and checks every available burrow or crevice for food. Because of their larger size, male stoats are less successful than females in pursuing rodents far into tunnels. Stoats regularly climb trees to gain access to birds' nests, and are common raiders of nest boxes, particularly those of large species. The stoat reputedly mesmerises prey such as rabbits by a "dance" (sometimes called the weasel war dance), though this behaviour could be linked to Skrjabingylus infections.[34] The stoat seeks to immobilize large prey such as rabbits with a bite to the spine at the back of the neck. The stoat may surplus kill when the opportunity arises, though excess prey is usually cached and eaten later to avoid obesity, as overweight stoats tend to be at a disadvantage when pursuing prey into their burrows.[35] Small prey typically die instantly from a bite to the back of the neck, while larger prey, such as rabbits, typically die of shock, as the stoat's canine teeth are too short to reach the spinal column or major arteries.[34]

Communication

The stoat is a usually silent animal, but can produce a range of sounds similar to those of the least weasel. Kits produce a fine chirping noise. Adults trill excitedly before mating, and indicate submission through quiet trilling, whining and squealing. When nervous, the stoat hisses, and will intersperse this with sharp barks or shrieks and prolonged screeching when aggressive.[26]

Aggressive behaviour in stoats is categorised in these forms:[26]

  • Noncontact approach, which is sometimes accompanied by a threat display and vocalisation from the approached animal
  • Forward thrust, accompanied by a sharp shriek, which is usually done by stoats defending a nest or retreat site
  • Nest occupation, when a stoat appropriates the nesting site of a weaker individual
  • Kleptoparasitism, in which a dominant stoat appropriates the kill of a weaker one, usually after a fight

Submissive stoats express their status by avoiding higher-ranking animals, fleeing from them or making whining or squealing sounds.[26]

Range and population

The stoat has a circumboreal range throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, from Greenland and the Canadian and Siberian Arctic islands south to about 35°N. Stoats in North America are found throughout Alaska and Canada south through most of the northern United States to central California, northern Arizona, northern New Mexico, Iowa, the Great Lakes region, New England, and Pennsylvania, but are absent from most of the Great Plains, and the Southeastern United States. The stoat in Europe is found as far south as 41ºN in Portugal, and inhabits most islands with the exception of Iceland, Svalbard, the Mediterranean islands and some small North Atlantic islands. In Japan, it is present in central mountains (northern and central Japan Alps) to northern part of Honshu (primarily above 1,200 m) and Hokkaido. Its vertical range is from sea level to 3,000 m.[1]

Introduction to New Zealand

Stoats were introduced into New Zealand during the late 19th century to control rabbits and hares, but are now a major threat to native bird populations. The introduction of stoats was opposed by scientists in New Zealand and Britain, including the New Zealand ornithologist Walter Buller. The warnings were ignored and stoats began to be introduced from Britain in the 1880s, resulting in a noticeable decline in bird populations within six years.[37] Stoats are a serious threat to ground- and hole-nesting birds, since the latter have very few means of escaping predation. The highest rates of stoat predation occur after seasonal gluts in southern beechmast (beechnuts), which encourage the reproduction of rodents on which stoats also feed, encouraging stoats to increase their own numbers.[38] For instance, the endangered South Island takahē's wild population dropped by a third between 2006 and 2007, after a stoat plague triggered by the 2005–06 mast wiped out more than half the takahē in untrapped areas.[39]

Diseases and parasites

Tuberculosis has been recorded in stoats inhabiting the former Soviet Union and New Zealand. They are largely resistant to tularemia, but are reputed to suffer from canine distemper in captivity. Symptoms of mange have also been recorded.[40]

Stoats are vulnerable to ectoparasites associated with their prey and the nests of other animals on which they do not prey. The louse Trichodectes erminea is recorded in stoats living in Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. In continental Europe, 26 flea species are recorded to infest stoats, including Rhadinospylla pentacantha, Megabothris rectangulatus, Orchopeas howardi, Spilopsyllus ciniculus, Ctenophthalamus nobilis, Dasypsyllus gallinulae, Nosopsyllus fasciatus, Leptospylla segnis, Ceratophyllus gallinae, Parapsyllus n. nestoris, Amphipsylla kuznetzovi and Ctenopsyllus bidentatus. Tick species known to infest stoats are Ixodes canisuga, I. hexagonus, and I. ricinus and Haemaphysalis longicornis. Louse species known to infest stoats include Mysidea picae and Polyplax spinulosa. Mite species known to infest stoats include Neotrombicula autumnalis, Demodex erminae, Eulaelaps stabulans, Gymnolaelaps annectans, Hypoaspis nidicorva, and Listrophorus mustelae.[40]

The nematode Skrjabingylus nasicola is particularly threatening to stoats, as it erodes the bones of the nasal sinuses and decreases fertility. Other nematode species known to infect stoats include Capillaria putorii, Molineus patens and Strongyloides martes. Cestode species known to infect stoats include Taenia tenuicollis, Mesocestoides lineatus and rarely Acanthocephala.[40]

Relationships with humans

Folklore and mythology

In Irish mythology, stoats were viewed anthropomorphically as animals with families, which held rituals for their dead. They were also viewed as noxious animals prone to thieving, and their saliva was said to be able to poison a grown man. To encounter a stoat when setting out for a journey was considered bad luck, but one could avert this by greeting the stoat as a neighbour.[41] Stoats were also supposed to hold the souls of infants who died before baptism.[42] In the folklore of the Komi people of the Urals, stoats are symbolic of beautiful and coveted young women.[43] In the Zoroastrian religion, the stoat is considered a sacred animal, as its white winter coat represented purity. Similarly, Mary Magdalene was depicted as wearing a white stoat pelt as a sign of her reformed character. One popular European legend had it that a white stoat would die before allowing its pure white coat to be besmirched. When it was being chased by hunters, it would supposedly turn around and give itself up to the hunters rather than risk soiling itself.[44] The former nation (now province) of Brittany in France uses a stylized ermine-fur pattern in forming the Coat of Arms and Flag of Brittany. Gilles Servat's song La blanche Hermine ("The White Ermine") became an anthem for Bretons (and is popular among French people in general).

Fur use

Stoat skins are prized by the fur trade, especially in winter coat, and used to trim coats and stoles. The fur from the winter coat is referred to as ermine and is the traditional ancient symbol of the Duchy of Brittany forming the earliest flag of that nation. There is also a design called ermine inspired by the winter coat of the stoat and painted onto other furs, such as rabbit.[45] In Europe these furs are a symbol of royalty and high status; the ceremonial robes of members of the UK House of Lords and the academic hoods of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge are traditionally trimmed with ermine[45] although in practice rabbit or fake fur is now often used instead due to expense or animal rights concerns. Prelates of the Catholic Church still wear ecclesiastical garments featuring ermine (a sign of their status equal to that of the nobility). Cecilia Gallerani is depicted holding an ermine in her portrait, Lady with an Ermine, by Leonardo da Vinci. Henry Peacham's Emblem 75, which depicts an ermine being pursued by a hunter and two hounds, is entitled "Cui candor morte redemptus" ("Purity bought with his own death"). Peacham goes on to preach that men and women should follow the example of the ermine and keep their minds and consciences as pure as the legendary ermine keeps its fur.[46]

Ermine were also valued by the Tlingit and other indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. They could be attached to traditional regalia and cedar bark hats as status symbols, or they were also made into shirts.[47]

The stoat was a fundamental item in the fur trade of the Soviet Union, with no less than half the global catch coming from within its borders. The Soviet Union also contained the highest grades of stoat pelts, with the best grade North American pelts being comparable only to the 9th grade in the quality criteria of former Soviet stoat standards. However, stoat harvesting never became a specialty in any Soviet republic, with most stoats being captured incidentally in traps or near villages. Stoats in the Soviet Union were captured either with dogs or with box-traps or jaw-traps. Guns were rarely used, as they could damage the pelt.[48]

References

  1. ^ a b c Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). "Mustela erminea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 21 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  2. ^ Shorter Oxford English dictionary. UK: Oxford University Press. 2007. p. 3804. ISBN 0199206872.
  3. ^ "100 of the World's Worst Invasive Species". Invasive Species Specialist Group.
  4. ^ a b Coues 1877, pp. 124–125
  5. ^ a b Johnston 1903, p. 160
  6. ^ Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 456
  7. ^ a b Kurtén 1968, pp. 101–102
  8. ^ Kurtén 1980, p. 150
  9. ^ Macdonald 1992, p. 205
  10. ^ Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 458
  11. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  12. ^ a b c Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 1010
  13. ^ Merriam 1896, pp. 12–13
  14. ^ Merriam 1896, p. 15
  15. ^ a b Merriam 1896, pp. 11–12
  16. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 1014
  17. ^ a b c Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 459
  18. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 1012
  19. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 1013
  20. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 1011
  21. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 997
  22. ^ Coues 1877, pp. 117–121
  23. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 999
  24. ^ a b c d e Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 457
  25. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 1002
  26. ^ a b c d e Harris & Yalden 2008, pp. 460–461
  27. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 998
  28. ^ Gulamhusein, A. P., and W. H. Tam. "Reproduction in the male stoat, Mustela erminea." Reproduction 41.2 (1974): 303-312.
  29. ^ Amstislavsky, Sergei, and Yulia Ternovskaya. "Reproduction in mustelids." Animal Reproduction Science 60 (2000): 571-581.
  30. ^ Harris & Yalden 2008, pp. 464–465
  31. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 1021–1022
  32. ^ Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 461
  33. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 1018
  34. ^ a b c d Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 463
  35. ^ a b Verts & Carraway 1998, p. 417
  36. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 1020
  37. ^ King, Carolyn (1984). Immigrant Killers. Auckland, NZ: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-558121-0.
  38. ^ Purdey, D. C.; King, C. M.; Lawrence, B. (2004). "Age structure, dispersion and diet of a population of stoats (Mustela erminea) in southern Fiordland during the decline phase of the beechmast cycle" (PDF). New Zealand Journal of Zoology. The Royal Society of New Zealand. 31 (3): 205–225. doi:10.1080/03014223.2004.9518373. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
  39. ^ "Stoats decimating takahe in Fiordland". stuff.co.nz. 4 March 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  40. ^ a b c Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 466
  41. ^ Monaghan, Patricia (2004) The encyclopedia of Celtic mythology and folklore: Facts on File library of religion and mythology, page 426, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 0-8160-4524-0
  42. ^ Daniels, Cora Linn & Stevans, C. M. Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World, Volume 2 (2003), The Minerva Group, Inc., ISBN 1-4102-0915-6
  43. ^ Laakso, Johanna (2005) Our otherness: Finno-Ugrian approaches to women's studies, or vice versa, Volume 2 of Finno-Ugrian studies in Austria, LIT Verlag Münster, ISBN 3-8258-8626-3
  44. ^ Sax, Boria (2001) The mythical zoo: an encyclopedia of animals in world myth, legend, and literature, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 1-57607-612-1
  45. ^ a b "A house of traditions". BBC News. January 19, 1999.
  46. ^ The Minerva Britanna Project Archived 2003-04-18 at the Wayback Machine
  47. ^ "Tlingit Ermine-Skin Shirt (Daa dugu k'oodas')".
  48. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 1029–1030

Bibliography

Further reading

External links

Burtonhole Lane and Pasture

Burtonhole Lane and Pasture is a 6.5 hectare Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, Grade II, between Mill Hill and Totteridge in the London Borough of Barnet. It consists of Burtonhole Lane between Partingdale Lane and Burtonhole Close, a footpath east from Burtonhole Lane towards Folly Brook, two fields south of the footpath, and a narrow belt of privately owned woodland north of the footpath. Burtonhole Brook, a tributary of Folly Brook, crosses Burtonhole Lane and the fields.Burtonhole Lane is an old green lane which is now a public footpath and bridleway. It is flanked by tall hedgerows and woodland strips, which support a good variety of shrubs and a number of stately trees, most of them oak and ash. Birds include chaffinch, goldcrest, and green woodpecker, while mammals include stoat, weasel and bank vole. Frogs breed in a wet ditch at the base of the hedgerows.The fields are old London clay grassland, dominated by Yorkshire fog with some tufted hair-grass. Damper areas and Burtonhole Brook support a much more diverse flora.

Castle Storm

Castle Storm is the second novel in the Welkin Weasels series by Garry Kilworth. Picking up shortly after the end of Thunder Oak, the novel centres on the anthropomorphised weasels searching for the humans that mysteriously vanished from their homeland many years before. Following a clue found in the first book, the weasels, led by the outlaw Sylver and pursued by the stoat Sheriff Falshed, journey to a far-away city where they find themselves entangled in a battle between rivalling clans of squirrels. Published in Germany under the title "Belagert die Sturmburg."

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.

Conwy RSPB reserve

Conwy RSPB reserve is a nature reserve of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds situated on the east side of the Conwy estuary in Conwy county borough, North Wales. It covers 47 hectares (114 acres) and protects a variety of habitats including grassland, scrubland, reedbeds, salt marsh and mudflats. It was created as compensation for the destruction of areas of wildlife habitat during the construction of the A55 road tunnel under the estuary between 1986 and 1991. Waste from dredging was dumped onto the site which was later landscaped to create two large pools and several smaller ones. The reserve opened to the public on 14 April 1995 and facilities for visitors now include a visitor centre, café and three hides. A farmers' market is held on the reserve car park each month.

Over 220 species of bird have been recorded on the reserve, including lapwing, little ringed plover, skylark and reed warbler. Large numbers of ducks and waders are present outside the breeding season, together with water rails and a large roost of starlings. Vagrant birds have included the stilt sandpiper, Terek sandpiper, broad-billed sandpiper and alpine swift.

Other wildlife includes otter, stoat and weasel along with 11 species of dragonfly and damselfly and 22 different butterflies. The reserve has become increasingly well-vegetated and 273 species of plant have been found. Stands of common reed and areas of willow and alder have been planted.

Crocidura Dsi Nezumi

Crocidura Dsi Nezumi (サイゴクヂネズミ) is an album by the Japanese noise musician Merzbow. It is "unplugged noise" made using household objects; violin sounds are made with a violin bow on a plastic cassette case or wood, guitar is a rubber band, trumpet is a toilet paper tube, electrical sounds are made with metal. Environmental percussion is the floor, gas stove, the spring of a table lamp, etc. Titles are taken from the Latin names of the Japanese White-toothed Shrew, Japanese stoat, and Japanese weasel.It was included in the Merzbox with a bonus track.

Darland's Lake Nature Reserve

Darland's Lake Nature Reserve is a nature reserve south of Totteridge Village in Barnet, England. It is owned by the London Borough of Barnet and was managed from 1971 by the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and more recently by the borough council. In 2007 the council spent £215,000 on repairing the dam and other works, and then proposed leasing the reserve to the Wildlife Trust. However, the transfer did not take place and the nature reserve is currently not managed. In September 2017 a trust was set up by the London Wildlife Trust and local residents associations with the aim of taking over the management of Darland's Lake.

The site was once part of Copped Hall, an estate dating from the sixteenth century. From 1780 it was occupied by William Manning MP, and his son Cardinal Manning was born there. Darland's Lake was created as an ornamental lake by damming Folly Brook, probably planned by William Manning's wife, Mary, with advice from Humphry Repton.The lake is very shallow, with extensive reed beds, and the reserve also includes woodland. It has a diverse range of breeding birds and eighteen species of mammal have been recorded, including stoat and weasel. It is also of value for grass snakes, amphibians, fungi and invertebrates.Folly Brook and Darland's Lake Nature Reserve are together designated a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, Grade 1. Darland's Lake was formerly a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but the designation was withdrawn when it was discovered that the rarest plants had been introduced. According to the London Ecology Unit's Nature Conservation in Barnet, published in 1997, Darland's Lake was one of seven sites identified by Barnet Council as meeting the criteria for designation as a Local Nature Reserve, and it is the only one of the seven which the Council has not designated.

There is access is by a path from The Close, Totteridge Village, and by a footpath from Southover which follows Folly Brook to the lake.

Ermine (disambiguation)

Ermine is the common name for the stoat (Mustela erminea), more especially in its white winter coat

Ermine may also refer to:

Ermine (heraldry), the white winter fur and black tail end of the stoat, which is historically worn by and associated with royalty and high officials

"Ermine marks" are dark patches of color on the white limb of a horse, just above the level of the hoof

Ermine moth, a family of moths

Ermine, a northern suburb of Lincoln, England

Ermine Street, a Roman Road running from London to Lincoln and York

Ermine, Kentucky, a town in the U.S. state of Kentucky

Ermine (band), a Canadian progressive rock band

Ermine (heraldry)

Ermine () in heraldry is a "fur", a type of tincture, consisting of a white background with a pattern of black shapes representing the winter coat of the stoat (a species of weasel with white fur and a black-tipped tail). The linings of medieval coronation cloaks and some other garments, usually reserved for use by high-ranking peers and royalty, were made by sewing many ermine furs together to produce a luxurious white fur with patterns of hanging black-tipped tails. Due largely to the association of the ermine fur with the linings of coronation cloaks, crowns and peerage caps, the heraldic tincture of ermine was usually reserved to similar applications in heraldry (i.e., the linings of crowns and chapeaux and of the royal canopy).

Least weasel

The least weasel (Mustela nivalis), common weasel, or simply weasel in the UK and much of the world, is the smallest member of the genus Mustela, family Mustelidae and order Carnivora. 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. 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.

Long-tailed weasel

The long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata), also known as the bridled weasel or big stoat, is a species of mustelid distributed from southern Canada throughout all the United States and Mexico, southward through all of Central America and into northern South America. It is distinct from the short-tailed weasel, also known as a "stoat", a close relation which originated in Eurasia and crossed into North America some half million years ago.

Miniver

For the fictional character, see Mrs. Miniver.Miniver is an unspotted white fur edged with grey derived from the winter coat of the Northern red squirrel. Miniver differs from ermine fur in that it does not include the distinctive black tails of the stoat but is formed of distinctive grey edged panels cut from the complete fur and framing the white belly. From a red squirrel, which has a greyish-white winter coat with a white underside, miniver gros, or vair, is the whole fur, including the grey, and miniver pure retains only the white part. The heraldic fur, vair, translates the grey into blue, and alternates back and belly. R. Delort, Le commerce des fourrures en occident à la fin du moyen-âge, Rome, 1978.

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.

Order of the Ermine

Orders of the Ermine may refer to;

Order of the Ermine (France), a chivalric order

Order of the Ermine (Naples), a chivalric order

Order of the Ermine (modern), awarded for services to Brittany

Riga-class frigate

The Riga class was the NATO reporting name for class of frigates built for the Soviet Navy in the 1950s. The Soviet designation for these ships was Storozhevoi Korabl (escort ship) Project 50 Gornostay (Ermine stoat). The Riga class was analogous to World War II era destroyer escorts.

Secretary Island

Secretary Island is an island in southwestern New Zealand, lying entirely within Fiordland National Park. Roughly triangular in shape, it lies between Doubtful Sound in the south and Thompson Sound in the north, with its west coast facing the Tasman Sea. To the east of the island, Pendulo Reach connects Thompson Sound with Doubtful Sound. Steeply sloped, the entirely bush-clad island rises to a chain of several peaks higher than 1000 metres. The highest of these is the 1,196-metre (3,924 ft) Mount Grono, the highest peak in the main New Zealand chain not located in the North or South Island. The island also contains three lakes. The largest, Secretary Lake, over 600 metres (2,000 ft) long, is located beneath Mount Grono at an altitude of 550 metres (1,800 ft).The island is uninhabited, and covers 81.4 km2 (31 sq mi) of predominantly steep terrain almost entirely covered in dense native beech-podocarp forest, including plants such as mistletoes and mountain lancewood, which have been decimated elsewhere by the browsing of possums.Its isolation and size make Secretary Island one of the most important islands in New Zealand for the conservation efforts of vulnerable native species. The island was never inhabited by possums or rodents, and by 2007, deer and stoat were eradicated as well, making it the largest completely pest-free island in New Zealand.With the removal of deer, the complete native ecosystem is thriving, with plants from ground covers through to trees supporting a healthy population of native animals from insects and spiders to native birds. Transferred populations of endangered birds in particular have been recovering thanks to the absence of rats and mice.

Sick Puppy

Sick Puppy is a 2000 novel by Carl Hiaasen.

Snow camouflage

Snow camouflage is the use of a coloration or pattern for effective camouflage in winter, often combined with a different summer camouflage. Summer patterns are typically disruptively patterned combinations of shades of browns and greys, up to black, while winter patterns are dominated by white to match snowy landscapes.

Among animals, variable snow camouflage is a type of seasonal polyphenism with a distinct winter plumage or pelage. It is found in birds such as the rock ptarmigan, lagomorphs such as the Arctic hare, mustelids such as the stoat, and one canid, the Arctic fox. Since these have evolved separately, the similar appearance is due to convergent evolution. This was used as early evidence for natural selection. Some high Arctic species like the snowy owl and polar bear however remain white all year round.

In military usage, soldiers often either exchange their disruptively-patterned summer uniforms for thicker snow camouflage uniforms printed with mainly-white versions of camouflage patterns in winter, or they wear white overalls over their uniforms. Some armies have made use of reversible uniforms, printed in different seasonal patterns on their two sides. Vehicles and guns are often simply repainted in white. Occasionally, aircraft too are repainted in snow camouflage patterns.

Stoats in New Zealand

Stoats (Mustela erminea) were introduced into New Zealand to control introduced rabbits and hares, but are now a major threat to the native bird population. The natural range of the stoat is limited to parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Immediately before human settlement, New Zealand did not have any land-based mammals apart from bats, but Polynesian and European settlers introduced a wide variety of animals.

Tom Budge

Thomas "Tom" Budge (born 15 March 1982) is an Australian actor. Budge was born in Melbourne, Victoria. Early in his acting career, Budge appeared in a number of Australian television shows, including

Neighbours, Round the Twist and Shock Jock etc. After a few years Budge moved from television to film, and has appeared in a number of Australian films, including, The Proposition, Kokoda, Candy, Bran Nue Dae and Last Train to Freo, for which he was nominated in 2006 by both the Australian Film Institute and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards for best supporting actor.In 2008-2009 Budge appeared in several episodes of the television drama, East of Everything. Budge also makes an appearance in the WW2 TV mini-series The Pacific, which

aired in 2010. More recently, Budge has been tipped to play Angus Young the AC/DC guitarist, in a movie about the former AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott.When not on set, Budge has said that he enjoys playing guitar and singing. He also performs in The Tom Budge Band.In the 2005 film The Proposition, Budge, who plays the character Samuel Stoat, sings the Canadian folk song "Peggy Gordon" which can be found on YouTube.

Subspecies Trinomial authority Description Range Synonyms
Northern stoat
M. e. erminea

(Nominate subspecies)

Linnaeus, 1758 A small-to-subspecies, with a relatively short and broad facial region[12] Kola Peninsula, Scandinavia hyberna (Kerr, 1792)

maculata (Billberg, 1827)

Middle Russian stoat
M. e. aestiva

Mustela.erminea

Kerr, 1792 A moderately sized subspecies with dark, tawny or chestnut summer fur[12] European Russia (except for the Kola Peninsula), Central and Western Europe algiricus (Thomas, 1895)

alpestris (Burg, 1920)
giganteus (Burg, 1920)
major (Nilsson, 1820)

Junean stoat
M. e. alascensis
Merriam, 1896 Similar to M. e. richardsonii, but with a broader skull and more extensive white tips on the limbs[13] Juneau, Alaska
Vancouver Island stoat
M. e. anguinae
Hall, 1932 Vancouver Island
Tundra stoat
M. e. arctica

Mustelaerminaarcticaskull

Merriam, 1826 A large subspecies, with a dark-yellowish brown summer coat, a deep yellow underbelly and a massive skull, it resembles Eurasian stoat subspecies more closely than any other American subspecies.[14] Alaska, northwestern Canada, Arctic archipelago except Baffin Island audax (Barrett-Hamilton, 1904)

kadiacensis (Merriam, 1896)
kadiacensis (Osgood, 1901)
richardsonii (Bonaparte, 1838)

M. e. augustidens Brown, 1908
Western Great Lakes stoat
M. e. bangsi
Hall, 1945 Region west of the Great Lakes cicognani (Mearns, 1891)

pusillus (Aughey, 1880)

Mustela e. celenda Hall, 1944
Bonaparte's stoat
M. e. cigognanii

Mustelaerminacicognaniskull

Bonaparte, 1838 A small subspecies, with a dark brown summer coat, its skull is more lightly built than that of richardsonii.[15] Region north and east of the Great Lakes pusilla (DeKay, 1842)

vulgaris (Griffith, 1827)

M. e. fallenda Hall, 1945
Fergana stoat
M. e. ferghanae
Thomas, 1895 A small subspecies, it has a very light, straw-brownish or greyish coat, which is short and soft. Light spots, sometimes forming a collar, are present on the neck. It does not turn white in winter.[16] Montane Tien Shan and Pamir-Alaisk system, Afghanistan, India, western Tibet and adjacent parts of Tien Shan China shnitnikovi (Ognev, 1935)

whiteheadi (Wroughton, 1908)

Mustela e. gulosa Hall, 1945
Queen Charlotte Islands stoat
M. e. haidarum
Preble, 1898 Queen Charlotte Islands
Irish stoat
M. e. hibernica

Mustela erminea hibernica

Thomas and Barrett-Hamilton, 1895 Larger than aestiva, but smaller than stabilis, it is distinguished by the irregular pattern on the dividing line between dark and pale fur on the flanks, though 13.5% of Irish stoats exhibit the more typical straight dividing line.[17] Ireland, Isle of Man
M. e. initis Hall, 1945
M. e. invicta Hall, 1945
Kodiak stoat
M. e. kadiacensis
Merriam, 1896 Kodiak Island
East Siberian stoat
M. e. kaneii
Baird, 1857 A moderately sized subspecies, it is smaller than M. e. tobolica, with close similarities to M. e. arctica. The colour of the summer coat is relatively light, with varying intensities of browning-yellow tinges.[18] Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East including Kamchatka, except the Amur Oblast and Ussuriland, Transbaikalia and Sayan baturini (Ognev, 1929)

digna (Hall, 1944)
kamtschatica (Dybowski, 1922)
kanei (G. Allen, 1914)
naumovi (Jurgenson, 1938)
orientalis (Ognev, 1928)
transbaikalica (Ognev, 1928)

Karaginsky stoat
M. e. karaginensis
Jurgenson, 1936 A very small subspecies with a light chestnut coloured summer coat[19] Karaginsky Island along the eastern coast of Kamchatka
Altai stoat
Mustela e. lymani
Hollister, 1912 A moderately sized subspecies with less dense fur than M. e. tobolica, the colour of its summer coat consists of weakly developed reddish-brown tones. The skull is similar to that of M. e. aestiva.[18] Mountains of southern Siberia eastwards to Baikal and contiguous parts of Mongolia
M. e. martinoi Ellerman and Morrison-Scott, 1951 birulai (Martino and Martino, 1930)
Swiss stoat
M. e. minima
Cavazza, 1912 Switzerland
Gobi stoat

M. e. mongolica

Ognev, 1928 Govi-Altai Province
Southwestern stoat
M. e. muricus
Bangs, 1899 Southwestern extremity of the species' American range (Nevada, Utah, Colorado and other states) leptus (Merriam, 1903)
Japanese stoat

M. e. nippon Mustela erminea in summer

Cabrera, 1913 Japan

M. e. ognevi

Jurgenson, 1932
Olympic stoat

M. e. olympica

Hall, 1945 Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Polar stoat
M. e. polaris
Barrett-Hamilton, 1904 Greenland
Richardson's stoat
M. e. richardsonii
Bonaparte, 1838 Similar to M. e. cigognanii, but larger, with a dull chocolate brown summer coat[15] Newfoundland, Labrador and nearly all of Canada save for the territories of other stoat subspecies imperii (Barrett-Hamilton, 1904)

microtis (J. A. Allen, 1903)
mortigena (Bangs, 1913)

Hebrides stoat
M. e. ricinae
Miller, 1907 Hebrides
M. e. salva Hall, 1944
M. e. seclusa Hall, 1944
Baffin Island stoat

M. e. semplei

Sutton and Hamilton, 1932 Baffin Island and adjacent parts of the mainland labiata (Degerbøl, 1935)
British stoat
M. e. stabilis

Mustela Erminea head

Barrett-Hamilton, 1904 Larger than mainland European stoats[17] Great Britain, introduced to New Zealand
M. e. stratori Merriam, 1896
Caucasian stoat
M. e. teberdina
Korneev, 1941 A small subspecies with coffee to reddish tawny summer coat[12] Northern slope of the middle part of the main Caucasus range balkarica (Basiev, 1962)
Tobolsk stoat
M. e. tobolica
Ognev, 1923 A large subspecies, it is somewhat larger than aestiva, with long and dense fur.[20] Western Siberia, eastwards to the Yenisei and Altai and in Kazakhstan
Extant Carnivora species

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