© Stuart M Bennett 2005


Mustela nivalis

The Weasel is relatively small and slim being about 20 cm long, and is Britain's smallest carnivore. You can find this little chappy all over Europe, North Africa and Northern Asia...gets about a bit doesn't he.. It lives mainly on mice and voles and will go after them into their holes, one weasel can eat hundreds of mice in a year. In the summer it lives mostly in the fields and on the outskirts of wooded areas, but in winter will withdraw deeper into the woods for protection and where food is more plentiful. It moves in undulating bounds, and, if you are trying to spot one it looks like a slim fast moving mouse. Each weasel has a territory of 10-20 acres, with the territory size depending on the amount of food available.

A weasel sits on it's haunches looking
looking for food. No two weasels have the same flank pattern


Fur ginger to russet brown, cream below. Long slender body, short tail.

Head/body length: Males 194-217mm; Females 173-183mm.

Tail: Males 42-52mm; Females 34-43mm.

Weight: Males 106-131g, Females 55-69g.


Litter Size are 3-6 are born blind under a pile of stones, under a tree stump or in a hole in the ground during April or May; in years where prey is plentiful the litter size will be much larger. The gestation period is about 5 weeks and it is usual for the weasel to have several litters a year and therefore young can be found well into the autumn. The young are able to see at 3 weeks and are weaned at 4 weeks and are virtually self-sufficient at 8 weeks doing their own kills. The family group will split up after about three months. Weasels are the only British carnivore to breed in their first year. Their life span is limited to about 1-2 years as they are targeted by game keepers and are predated on by cats, owls, foxes and birds of prey


And of course everybody knows the nursery rhyme

Pop goes the Weasel

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
Up and down the City road,
In and out the Eagle,
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

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