Field Guide/Mammals/Long-tailed Weasel

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Mustela frenata (Long Tailed Weasel)
Family: Mustelidae
Size: Total Length: 11 – 22 inches (28-56 centimeters)

Tail Length: 3 – 6 inches (8 – 15 centimeters)

Weight: 3 – 9 ounces (85 – 267 grams)
Description: Long body with short legs. During the summer months, it is brown with white underside. During the winter months, it turns white, except for the tip of the tail, which remains black year round.
Similar Species: The short tailed weasel is very similar, but can be distinguished from the long tailed weasel by size, as the long tailed weasel is larger.

Range: The long tailed weasel is found throughout much of the United States and through northern South America.
Habitat: This species prefers open areas near water that are covered with tall grass or water. They make their dens from hollowed out logs or tree stumps, rock piles, or by taking over burrows after killing the former occupants.
Diet: The long tailed weasel is primarily a carnivore, feeding on mice. However, it also attacks animals that are much larger than itself, including rabbits, shrews, rats, and poultry.
Activity: Weasels do not hibernate, and therefore line their dens in preparation for winter.

Reproduction: Females become sexually mature at 3 or 4 months of age. Males do not become sexually mature until 2 years of age. Breeding in July or August, they give birth 7 months after fertilization. Litters of 1 – 10 pups are common and are born in underground dens that are lined with rodent fur. The young are born without fur and are blind; they leave the den after 7 – 8 weeks.
Lifespan: 1 – 6 years [1]
Long tailed weasel

  1. Dreis, C. (1997), Long Tailed Weasel, http://www3.northern.edu/natsource/MAMMALS/Longta1.htm, retrieved 9-23-12