All about weasels | Living the Country Life

All about weasels

If you see a weasel slinking around your place, consider yourself lucky
Photo courtesy of University of Missouri

There are three species of weasels in the U.S., and they're all good mousers.

Stephen VanTassel is a wildlife damage management expert. He says weasels can best be described as paper towel tubes with legs – they're long, thin creatures. The long-tailed weasel can be as long as 17", the short-tailed weasel can reach 12", and the Least Weasel, at no more than 10, is the smallest carnivore in the world.

 Most of the time, weasels aren't much of a nuisance to have around.

"The biggest threat they would have for someone would be predation of their livestock, particularly chickens. Otherwise if you don't have that kind of small livestock, weasels are not a threat to your family at all, or your livelihood," says VanTassel. "In fact they would be killing things that you probably didn't want to have around anyway."

If you have a chicken flock, VanTassel advises securing the area by closing all openings larger than one-quarter-inch so the weasels can't slink inside.  

Weasels are carnivores and primarily catch rodents. They are not a threat to cats or other pets. In fact, your cat is more likely to prey on the weasel. The critters are nocturnal, and their habitat varies by species.

"The long-tailed weasel habitat tends to be a little bit more open fields with rocky areas and they like to be near water, whereas the short-tailed weasel, because it is smaller, tends to prefer more cover so they would be more in the area of places like hedgerows, places where they could hide more frequently to get away from predators," says VanTassel. "All three of these species are susceptible to raptor predation."

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