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A weasel is a small, agile mammal that belongs to the Mustelidae family of the Mustela genus. Weasels have a small head, short legs, long body, and long neck.
See the fact file below for more information on the weasel or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Weasel worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Etymology and Distribution
- The term weasel was originally used to refer to only one species: the least weasel (Mustela nivalis).
- Now it refers to 17 weasel species in the Mustela genus, according to the Integrated Taxonomic System.
- Weasels are related to ferrets, polecats, ermine, tayras, martens, and minks which belong to the Mustela genus.
- They are also related to otters, badgers, and wolverines which belong to the Mustelidae family.
- Weasels are found in North America and South America.
- They can’t be found in Antarctica and Australia.
- They live in a wide range of habitats, like woodlands, coniferous forests, farmlands, roadsides, and grasslands.
- Weasels have very fast metabolisms.
- A weasel needs to eat 40 to 60 percent of its body weight per day.
- They don’t have a lot of fat in their body so they need to keep consuming food.
- Weasels dig their own burrows and do so swiftly.
- There are times when a weasel will take over another animal’s burrows.
- The diet of a weasel consists of rats, rabbits, lemmings, lizards, hares, squirrels, rodents, voles, frogs, birds, insects, dead meat, and bird eggs.
- Their small bodies are an advantage when hunting for food because they can squeeze themselves into spots that are hard to reach or get into.
- They store excess food underground near the entrance of their burrows.
- Weasels are fierce hunters.
- Their tactic in killing their prey is to intimidate the animal by hopping and dancing back and forth.
- They then hold tight onto the prey’s neck and bite until the prey’s dead.
- Weasels curl up into a ball and lower their metabolism to keep warm.
- Weasels are very feisty and they would perceive as prey anything that moves and triggers them.
- Weasels can kill prey up to 10 times their size.
- When there’s plenty of prey, weasels just keep on hunting and storing food.
- The pattern by which female weasels mate and give birth varies from species to species.
- Females become sexually mature when they’ve reached at least 3 months old.
- Mating season is during the spring or summer.
- Female weasels can give birth to between 8 and 15 offspring at a time, which makes one litter.
- Females can handle giving birth to one or two litters in a year.
- Newborn weasels can’t see when they are first born.
- Gestation period can take 35 days up to 10 months.
- Weasels can live up to three years in the wild and ten years in captivity, but the average lifespan is 1 to 2 years.
- A group of weasels can be called a boogle, pack, or confusion.
- Weasels are nocturnal animals – they are active at night and sleep during the day.
- When a weasel is awake, it spends most of its time hunting food, eating, and storing food for later.
- Weasels do not hibernate. They are active throughout the year.
- Weasels know how to climb, swim, hop, and run.
- Weasels are generally loners when they’re not mating or caring for their offspring.
- Weasels are territorial and will defend their homes from any invasion.
- A weasel’s common predators are hawks, owls, eagles, snakes, and foxes.
- Domestic dogs and cats can also be a threat to weasels.
- Weasels can be a pain for humans’ livelihood: they kill poultry, rabbits, and eat eggs.
- Generally, weasels are not threatened or endangered. However, species like the Japanese weasel, the Colombian weasel, and the mountain weasel are becoming near threatened and vulnerable.
- The weasel is considered an invasive species in New Zealand.
- The least weasel is the world’s smallest carnivorous animal.
- The least weasel weighs 1 ounce and is only 4 to 10 inches in length.
- Larger weasels can grow up to 12 inches.
- The short-tailed weasel is the most common weasel.
- The short-tailed weasel inhabits North American, South American, Asia, and European regions.
- The long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) is found in North America.
- The tropical weasel, or Amazon weasel (Mustela africana), lives in South America.
- Other species include:
- Mountain weasel (Mustela altaica)
- Colombian weasel (Mustela felipei)
- Japanese weasel (Mustela itatsi)
- Yellow-bellied weasel (Mustela kathiah)
- Indonesian mountain weasel (Mustela lutreolina)
- Malayan weasel (Mustela nudipes)
- Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica)
- Back-striped weasel (Mustela strigidorsa)
- Egyptian weasel (Mustela subpalmata)
Weasels in Different Cultures
- A weasel near one’s house is bad luck according to Greek beliefs.
- In Japan, a cry of a weasel is also considered a bad omen or a ghost (“yokai”).
- Native Americans also treat weasels as mischievous spirits or magical, clever creatures.
- On the other hand, weasels are believed to be linked to magic in Germany and good fortune in Macedonia.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about weasel across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Weasel worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about a weasel which is a small, agile mammal that belongs to the Mustelidae family of the Mustela genus. Weasels have a small head, short legs, long body, and long neck.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Weasel Facts
- My Weasel Drawing
- Right Adjectives
- Species One-Liners
- Scientific Name Match
- On The Hunt
- Mustela Members
- Different Cultures
- Uncovered Facts
- Weasel Gallery
- Pop Goes The Weasel
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Link will appear as Weasel Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 20, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
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