Weasels

Our cat Templeton sleeping in the backyard in 2006. Original: CRW_7189.cr2

As I mentioned in my previous post, this year I’ve seen three long-tailed weasels (Mustela frenata) after never having seen them before. However they weren’t my first introduction to the weasel family itself, the mustelids. I had a similar experience last year with mink (Mustela vison), I saw three after never having seen them before — unfortunately I haven’t seen them since, I hope I have better luck with the weasels.

And of course I once had daily contact with the gray-tailed weasel (Mustela templeton), the sort of weasel who would act like he wanted to play, then when you got up to follow him, double back and steal your chair. And still look up at you with the purest innocence. That is a weasel.

While the gray-tailed weasel has sadly gone extinct, scientists are studying a mammal that some believe is a new species, the orange-tailed weasel (Mustela sam). The scientific community wants to wait for more data before final classification as a weasel, but two young scientists note that he will push you aside and steal your food, and with manners like that there’s really no reason to wait.

However, another scientist argues that the gray-tailed and orange-tailed weasels are likely one species, the little weasel (Mustela minimus). Or, since the orange creature seems to eat anything that even remotely resembles food if you leave it unguarded for a few seconds, that perhaps it is not a weasel at all but an unusually cute species of goat (Oreamnos terribulus).

Our cat Sam is partially hidden by grass and plants as he plays in the backyard in August 2008. Original: _MG_7105.cr2

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