Ermine, also known as the short-tailed weasel, or stout, is a small northern weasel. The name ermine is used for species in the genus Mustela, because of the white fur. However, this animal is very important to the fur trade. In fact, the fur is used to adorn royal robes in Europe. Heck, it is even used as a symbol of virginity or purity.
Where can we find the ermine?
Widely distributed, our friend is found across the northern subarctic, Arctic, and temperate regions of Asia, Europe, and North America. Moreover, it is also found from west to east in a wide belt going from the Arctic Ocean and nearby islands. Thus, this cute mammal prefers riparian woodlands, shrubby fencerows, marshes, and open areas near forests or shrub borders.
How does the ermine look?
When it comes to appearance, the first thing you will notice on this animal is that is very long. Having that in mind, the ermine has an elongated neck, with a head being placed quite far from the shoulders. Moreover, the eyes are round and black. Brown or white in color, the whickers are very long. Yet, the ears are short and rounded. Finally, the claws are not retractable. Adult measures between 6,7 and 12, 8 inches in length, and weigh from 6,3 to 9,1 oz.
Although cute, this carnival will prey on even larger animals than itself. Thus, our opportunist will hunt warm-blooded vertebrates, particularly mammals the size of rabbits. Yet, the second, not much-preferred choice includes birds, eggs, fish, frogs, and insects. However, as an extremely well climber, our friend can easily catch birds or intrude in their nests.
When it comes to mating, these mammals are, like squirrel monkeys, very promiscuous. Therefore, both males and females will mate with multiple partners, from late spring to early summer. However, the female has only one litter per year. After a gestation of 280 days, 3 to 18 kits are born. Very soon, after only 8 weeks, young start to hunt with their mothers. Finally, when just two more weeks pass, they are fully independent.
Did you know the male ermine babies are larger than their mothers after only 7 weeks old?
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