ermine (Mustela Erminea) is a small mustelid, so it is related to the weasel and the otter. It has an orange body, a black tipped tail, and a distinctive gait. They can be found in meadows, heaths and forests. It is also known as the short-tailed weasel.

They are found throughout mainland Great Britain in a variety of habitats and are absent from Mediterranean countries and southern Europe. They are considered to be the most widespread mustelid. The population before the breeding season is estimated at 462.000 adults.

Species

Here we have a list of some of the subspecies of the ermine:

  • Mustela erminea Summer
  • M. e. Alascensis
  • I. anguinae
  • M. e. Arctica
  • I. augustidens
  • M. e. Teddy bear
  • M. e. celenda
  • M. e. muricus
  • M. e. nippon
  • M. e. fires
  • Myself. olympica
  • M. e. polaris
  • M. e. richardsonii
  • M. e. Ricinae
  • Myself. save
  • I. secluded
  • M. e. semplei
  • I. steady
  • M. e. streatori
  • M. e. teberdina
  • M. e. tobolica

Features

The ermine has an orange-brown back, a creamy white throat and belly, and a black-tipped tail. It is larger than the similar weasel, has a longer tail, and has a distinctive gait, arching its back as it moves; weasels are not usually climbers, but rather run close to the ground.

They have an average head and body length of between 16 and 31 centimeters and can weigh from 90 to 445 grams. Males are typically 29 centimeters with a tail length of 11 centimeters and females about 26 centimeters with a tail length of 9 centimeters. Males are larger than females, but they both keep bones firm and light.

The appearance of is similar to that of a weaselAlthough the ermine is considerably larger and has a distinctive black tip on its tail. Stoats have a long, slender, cylindrical body and neck, short legs, and a long tail.

The fur of this mammal it is chestnut brown in summer, with a lighter underside. In winter, in the tundra areas, their fur thickens and turns white. In all seasons the ermine has a black tip on its tail. The black tip probably serves as a decoy for predators. Their white fur is extremely valuable in the fashion world as it is unusually dense.

We can appreciate the white fur of the ermine in winter.
We can appreciate the white fur of the ermine in winter.

Stoats have a good sense of sight, smell and hearing, which they use to help them hunt. Stoats are very agile and good climbers, and can pull young birds out of a nest. They are also strong swimmers, capable of crossing large rivers. The females are called bitches or females and the males are called dogs, cats or squirrels. Ermines for babies are called kits. A group of ermines is called «caravan«.

Behavior

The ermine is territorial and intolerant of others in its Distribution area, especially those of the same sex. Stoats typically use multiple burrows, often taken from prey species. She usually travels alone, except when she is mating or a mother with older children.

Communication between feces occurs mainly through odor, as the female has a sensitive olfactory system (related to the sense of smell). As a result, much of this communication is missed by human observers. However, it is believed that stoats identify females in heat by smell and also by sex, health and age of prey.

Some types of rodents, such as mice In the field, they have been counter-adapted by being able to stop reproduction (which makes the females slower and easier to catch) if they smell the scent of the female ermine. Stoats' visual resolution is lower than humans, and color vision is poor, although night vision is superior. Tactile information is presented by the vibrissae, or whiskers.

When alarmed, an ermine can release a powerful musky scent from its anal glands.

Habitat

They prefer moorlands, marshes near forests, lowland farms, the coast, or mountains as suitable habitats. When there is adequate food, it is found in a wide range of habitats, from lowland forests to cities.

Stoats make nests of grass and leaves in hollow logs, mole hills, walls, banks, burrows, crevices in rocks (dry stone walls, for example), or bushes. The female is territorial in the breeding season, but the males are not.

Distribution

Widely distributed throughout the world. You will see it in almost all habitats where cover and prey are found, although they are rare in built-up areas.

Food

They are in largely carnivorous and its main source of food is rabbit, despite having many times its own weight, supplemented by small rodents (such as mice y wheel), hares y birds. It also feeds on insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians e invertebrates.

When food is scarce, they eat carrion (carcasses of dead animals). He is a very skilled tree climber and, as a chipmunk, may descend a head trunk.

The ermine is capable of killing animals much larger than itself. When he is able to obtain more meat than he can eat, he will "slaughter surplus" and often store the extra feed for later. They kill their prey with a bite to the neck and can travel up to 8 kilometers on a hunt. They are fierce predators and can move at speeds of 32 miles per hour while hunting.

In most areas where stoats and weasels coexist, the weasel generally takes smaller prey and the ermine slightly larger prey. Larger males generally capture larger prey than females.

The ermine is not a quiet animal. The female becomes violent and territorial when caring for her young.
The ermine is not a quiet animal. The female becomes violent and territorial when caring for her young.

Predators

Predators include owls, hawks o carnivores bigger like him zorro and particularly the domestic cat.

Reproduction

Ermine pairs mate in May and June, followed by a period of delayed implantation. Mating occurs during the breeding season with multiple partners and is often forced by the male, who does not help raise the young. The implantation of the fertilized ovum in the wall of the uterus is delayed 280 days, however, the subsequent gestation period is only 21 to 28 days, so the young are born between April and May of the following year. Despite being such a small animal, ermines' gestation is one of the longest reported for mammals (11 months) due to delayed implantation.

The females (viviparous) they produce 1 litter of 5 to 12 pups per year. Young people are called "kits." The young are weaned at 5 weeks and are fully independent and capable of killing their own prey at 12 weeks. Male stoats sometimes mate with young female kits in the nest, so that they are pregnant even before they leave their mothers. The average lifespan of an ermine is 1 to 1.5 years, however, they can live up to 7 years of age.

State of conservation

They are relatively common animals and therefore are not classified as endangered. However, the main dangers to stoat are starvation in winter, predation by larger carnivores, and death on the roads.

Relationship with humans

The human They hunt them for several reasons: They are very skilled hunters, and even at a young age, they can kill prey up to 6 times their size. They are very difficult to tame and can give nasty bites. They are very smart and active, and they need a very large and secure box. They sleep most of the day, but they need someone to interact with when they are awake. They have a very varied diet, which usually consists of rabbits, rodents, etc. and sometimes it is difficult to keep it balanced. If you have other pets or children, they can be very dangerous.

They are natural hunters, they need space and they are not really a domesticated species.

They should be in the wild, I don't eat pets.

Popular culture

The ermine in winter has been used in art as a symbol of purity or virginity. White fur was highly prized and was worn on the robes of the Lord Chief Justice of England. Both the animal and the heraldic tincture are symbols of Brittany. The skins were sewn together in a pattern of black dots. A version of this pattern is used in heraldry as an ermine tincture. In some areas of Japan, due to its adorable appearance and somewhat elusive nature, it is still considered a symbol of good luck.

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