Long-tailed Weasel Mustela frenata

Basic description: Long-bodied, light-brown predator with short legs and a long, black-tipped tail.

Length: Body– 11-16 in. Tail– 5-10 in.

Weight: 0.3-1 lbs

Range: much of the U.S. and southern Canada south into Central America

Diet: small mammals, especially rodents; occasionally birds and insects

Mating: mid-summer, 280 day gestation period due to delayed implantation.

Life Expectancy: ~3 years

Reaching sexual maturity at only about three months old, Long-tailed weasels have short and energetic lives. They are agile small mammal hunters that comfortably inhabit a wide variety of landscapes across North America. Their long, tubular bodies are ideal for squeezing into the burrows, crevices, and cavities where their prey dwell. They have a reputation for killing more than they can eat, prey that they cache in their territories for later. In the Arb, a ground squirrel carcass strung up on a low shrub may be a sign that a weasel is nearby. Despite their wide range of habitats and bold nature, weasels are nocturnal creatures and rarely seen. Places in the Arb that may be worth searching are brushy forests near the Cannon River and forest edge. There is also a chance that the frantic alarm calls of Red Squirrels may give away a weasel intruding on their territory. Stay alert, as this important and widespread predator’s impact on the Arb needs to be studied more!