Posts Tagged ‘Mustela frenata’

One can see the black tipped tail on this side.

It was snowing when I took this photos this morning. Those white flakes are actual snow flakes.

This animal is a long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata), which is native from southern Canada to Bolivia. It is larger than the ermine or stoat (Mustela erminea), which also turns white in winter in North America, and much larger than the least weasel (Mustela nivalis). In West Virginia, we have only least and long-tailed weasels, but other parts of North America have all three species. Least weasels and stoats are found throughout Eurasia, but the long-tailed weasel is found only in the Americas.

Only northern North American populations of long-tailed weasel turn white in winter.

This particular specimen was killed by my grandfather, who passed away in this past August. He was squirrel hunting in late October.  While he was stalking a gray squirrel den tree, he happened to catch sight of a cottontail rabbit running hard and fast. The rabbit ran past him and dove into a copse of heavy brush.  A few minutes later, a white thing started moving along. It was tracking the rabbit’s trail.

My grandpa had no idea what he was looking at, so he did what just about anyone from West Virginia would do if he came across an animal in the woods that he couldn’t identify.

He waited until the white thing crossed a long that the rabbit jumped over. As soon as it raised its head over the log, he blasted it with his shotgun.

He brought it home for me to identify, but I was confused as to what it really was. I didn’t know that long-tailed weasels would turn white in the winter in this part of the country.

The fur on the back is still chocolate brown.

The initial plan was to have it sent to a taxidermist, but no one got around to it.

It’s been the freezer weasel for all these years.

A close up of the head. Dollar bill for scale.

So this is the famed freezer weasel I’ve written about.

It’s taken me this long to put up on the blog, but here it is.

The snow flakes have an added effect, don’t they?

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