Ermine: Key Facts

Ermines are a type of weasel that belongs to the Mustelidae family, along with ferrets, polecats, sables, and minks. These tiny weasels are captivating creatures to learn about. Despite their size, they are fierce hunters who can hunt and take down animals ten times their size. 

Here are some interesting facts about these unique critters:

Scientific NameMustela erminea
Common NamesErmine, stoat, weasel, short-tailed weasel
LocationSouth Asia, East Asia, Western Asia, Central Asia, Northern United States, Canada
HabitatUnderground dens in the tundra, woodlands, forests, and near dense greenery
Size– 2 – 5 oz 
– 7-14 inches long
DietRabbits, mice, rats, squirrels, hamsters, chicken, shrews, pikas, chipmunks
Hunting Habits– Daily hunts, using their speed, hearing, and sense of smell to search for their prey
– Use a zigzag pattern “war dance” to disorient their prey, then bite the base of its neck to kill it. 
Reproduction– Females produce one litter per year each spring
– Experience delayed implantation – they breed in the summer, but embryo only starts growing about 28 days before birth in April or May
LifespanDepending on location, they live anywhere from 1-7 years

For more information on ermines, check our guide on how to trap one, or this article about having it as a pet. Read also about other forest mammals – here are our guides about mongoose, sloth, wolf.

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