Least Weasel

Least weasels are common throughout Canada and Alaska. Their North American range extends to the forests of the Carolinas and the prairies of Wyoming. They are also found throughout much of the northern hemisphere, with the exception of most islands and Arabia. Least weasels avoid thick forests, sandy deserts and any exposed spaces.

Least weasels have a very long body, with a long neck and flat head. This allows them to move with ease over broken ground and inside burrows. The size of this weasel varies with its distribution across the globe. The largest least weasels are found in North Africa, while those in North America have the smallest bodies.

In summer, the least weasel's brown fur is about 1 cm (0.4 in) long, but the winter coat is more than double this length. In the far north, the coat also turns white in winter.

Least weasels live alone outside of the breeding season. Males occupy territories that are home to two or more females. They forage for food at all times of the day or night. They watch carefully for movements caused by prey, before launching an attack and dispatching their victims with a bite to the neck.

Distribution: Arctic to North Carolina; also found in Northern Asia, Africa and Europe.

Habitat: Forest, prairie, farmland and semi-desert.

Food: Rodents, eggs, nestlings and lizards.

Size: 16 - 20 cm (6.25 - 8 in); 30 - 55 g (1 - 2 oz).

Maturity: 8 months.

Breeding: Two litters of up to 7 young, born in spring and late summer.

Life span: 7 years.

Status: Common.