Weasels are small mammals belonging to the Mustelidae family. This family also includes other small nuisance wildlife like ferrets, badgers, and even some species of skunks.
The three species of weasels found in different areas of North America share similar features. This can cause confusion and make it difficult to distinguish between each. They are:
- Long-tailed weasel
- Short-tailed weasel
- Least weasel
Long-tailed, short-tailed, and least weasels can be spotted in different areas throughout North America, including the Northeastern part of the United States. This makes it possible for residents in states like Rhode Island and Connecticut to encounter a weasel infestation on their property.
Their bodies don’t store fat, so they thrive in environments with smaller rodents like voles, shrews, and mice, which can be a tasty meal. Spending most of their day hunting for food most of the day, weasels will store food if they have a surplus. This allows the critter to eat when food is scarce.
Weasels typically have a long, slender body with a light-colored fur on their belly, short legs, and small heads with rounded ears. They have large eyes and whiskers and a pointy snout.
If you have a weasel living under your deck, shed, or other low clearance are of your property, it’s quite possible you will hear a variety of sounds. Weasel sounds serve a variety of purposes, like high-pitched squeaks used in in response to a threat and low whistles can be used as a greeting.
Weasels can be spotted during any season, as these mammals do not hibernate during the winter. Science has shown that weasels are more diurnal in summer, as opposed to winter. But, that doesn’t mean the critter is hibernating.
The long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) is primarily covered with brown fur on its back and legs. The critter will have white or slightly yellow-colored belly fur and a black tipped tail.
Long-tailed weasels live in a variety of habitats including woodlands, thickets, and farmland. It is common for the long-tailed weasel to live in abandoned burrows, hollowed-out logs, or nests under rockpiles.
The long-tailed weasel averages 9 inches in length.
Short-tailed weasels (Mustela erminea), also known as the ermine, is the second smallest member of the weasel family. The critter is most commonly found in temperate regions of North America.
Determining if a short-tailed weasel is living on your property can be difficult because their fur changes color. During the summer months short-tailed weasels have brown fur, but the coat becomes white during the winter months.
Although it has been rumored that the change in fur color is caused by temperature change, this simply isn’t the case. The change in color is due to the change in the number of daylight hours.
The critter’s habitat can vary from farmlands, open woodlands, bushy areas, to grasslands. While the critter prefers a significant amount of coverage and protection, they typically avoid dense forests.
Creating a home in low-clearance areas like under decks or sheds can become a severe issue for homeowners and business owners. Burrowing beneath these areas can lead to structural damage.
Male short-tailed weasels average 8 to 13 inches in length, while females average 6 to 11 inches in length.
Least weasels (Mustela nivalis) tend to be on the smaller size of the weasel family, comparatively speaking. The critter averages from 7 to 9 inches in length, which includes their tail.
Like many other animals, male weasels are typically larger than females.
Commonly confused with the long-tailed weasel, the least weasel has brown-colored fur on most of its body, except for the belly fur, which is white.
But, unlike the other weasel, the least weasel has a very short tail and it does not have a black tip.
The least weasel can adapt to a multitude of climates and habitats. It can even thrive in a variety of areas. They can be found in marshes, grasslands, along field edges, bushy landscapes, and other areas that provide good coverage.
Weasels in the Home or Garden
Weasels burrow near or under areas like sheds, patios, and home foundations. These holes can be devalue the appearance of your lawn and can become a structural issue for the home or other building.
It’s uncommon to see weasels in your home. But, if the critter is courageous enough or hungry enough, it could find its way inside while chasing its prey. You may be able to hear them scurrying in walls or residing in barns on your property if they are searching for food.
Benefits of Weasel Removal & Control
Even though weasels can be great for pest control since they love small rodents, the animal can be quite aggressive and territorial, especially if feeling threatened.
If you think your home or property has a weasel infestation, it’s best to leave wildlife control and removal to the professionals.
There are several methods to exclude these critters from entering your home or burrowing beneath the garage.
Catseye Pest Control’s Cat-Guard Exclusion Systems is the best solution to seal up entry points to permanently prevent weasels and the prey they eat from entering your home, garage, business or other structure.
The permanent solution is eco-friendly, and specifically designed to protect your investment and loved ones from nuisance wildlife looking for a way inside.
Frequently Asked Questions About Weasels
Are Weasels Dangerous to People?
Despite their small size, weasels have an aggressive reputation. But, typically speaking, weasels try to avoid human contact. However, if the critter feels threatened, it will defend itself or territory.
Like most wildlife, weasels will bite if it feels threatened or trapped. Their sharp teeth can certainly pack a punch and they will use them against cats and dogs if threatened.
Do Weasels Come Out During the Day?
While weasels are considered nocturnal, it is not uncommon to see them out during the day. Since most of their time is spent hunting, they will take every opportunity to forage for food.
Depending on the season or the climate, weasels will display nocturnal or diurnal behavior.
Do Weasels Kill Cats & Dogs?
Even though weasels can be aggressive, cats and dogs are not prey to weasels, but rather the opposite. Cats and dogs will go after these mammals and could be met with a weasel’s nasty bite.
But that doesn’t mean a weasel will stalk your cat or dog.
Weasels have been known to kill chickens, though. The predator will behead the bird by biting at its neck until severed.
So, it’s best to leave the chickens in the coop unless you are able to keep an eye on them.