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Common name: Long-Tailed Weasel

Scientific name: Mustela frenata


Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivoria

Family: Mustelidae

Genus: Mustela

Species: M. frenata


Have you ever seen a ferret? The ferret is a close relative of the Long-Tailed Weasel, along with the Stoat, the Pine Martin, the Mink, the Ermine, and other members of the Mustela Genus. They are all very similar in some ways, in other ways, they are not. The Long-Tailed Weasel has that name for a reason. its tail is half it's size! The average male Long-tailed Weasel is 330 to 420 mm long and the average female is 280 to 350 mm long.


They have a large variety of colors; some are tawny with a deep golden underbelly in all areas, to solid brown in the north (but white in the summer) southern Long-Tailed Weasels are usually solid brown with a white mask. All Long-Tailed Weasels have a tail dipped in black. The Weasels are long and slender with short legs. In the summer, they also eat berries and some fruits, making them omnivores, though they're in Carnivora.


The Long-Tailed Weasel eats small ground mammals like the gopher, the mole, and the chipmunk. Like dachshunds; they need to be short and slim to get into their prey's burrows. It mainly uses scent and sound to track its prey, its curved ears are perfect for hearing vole's in their burrow, and its neck is long so it can smell at all angles and heights. Their eating habits help control rodent pests. This Weasel is adapted to several climates and places.


Its fur thickness depends on the place, so it lives in just about all of the eastern continents. It lives all over America, except for eastern California, most of Arizona, and Nevada. It can also be found in South (and Central) America and parts of Canada. They are the most widespread of the Mustelids, ranging from alpine to tropical climates.


They aren't found in thick brush or deserts. They favor grassland near water, grassy fields, and marshes. Some predators of the Long-Tailed Weasel are the coyote, cats, foxes, the owl, and some large snakes. They avoid being dinner by hiding underground and nesting out of clear view in hollow logs and burrows.


The burrows they nest in aren't always their own, they sometimes take over abandoned dens or the dens of things they'd eaten. Cool Facts Long-Tailed Weasels are born blind and nearly hairless. They communicate by squeaking, squealing, and purring. They are active night and day. Long- Tailed Weasels do not hibernate.


They are good at swimming and climbing trees. They are very territorial animals and will fight most any animal who challenges them, even if they're 5 times their size. They are sometimes pests, invading chicken coops and killing viciously. All members of the Mustela Genus have hunchbacks and tails that stick straight out.


Baby Long-Tailed Weasels leave their nests at 7-8 weeks old, by then, the males are bigger than their mother. Their pelts aren't worth much and aren't popular, unlike their cousins, the Mink; but they are still occasionally trapped. They aren't endangered, quite the opposite. They're one of the most populated animals in the Mustela Genus. Some Long-Tailed Weasels die before they hit one year, but nobody knows how long the ones that don't die in their first year live. Farmers that don't raise poultry do enjoy having Long-Tailed Weasels on their farm to rid them of rats and mice.


Author: Kennedy J.

Published: 02/2009



1. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals by Don E. Wilson, 1999

2., copyrighted 2007

3., copyrighted 2009

4. Photographer: Alden M. Johnson, 1999 California Academy of Sciences.

5., 1995-2008


Photo Credit:






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