Long-tailed weasels (Mustela frenata) are very quick. Although they are most active at night, it is not uncommon to see one during the day. With their long, slender bodies, long-tailed weasels can climb trees, squirm through rock piles, brush or thick growth and run through the burrows of rodents.
I rarely can get my camera up and focused before this disappearing artist is gone. Early the other morning Leonard and I came upon a long-tailed weasel that did not immediately vanish. It had a meadow vole in its sights and was more interested in hunting than eluding us. We watched the long-tailed weasel as it captured and then quickly ran off with its prey.
The diet of a long-tailed weasel consists chiefly of small rodents, although it also takes rabbits, birds, snakes and other reptiles. These little carnivores are also known to kill and devour members of their own species, including siblings. They kill prey by biting through the skull into the base of the brain case.
Found from southern Canada through the United States and into Mexico and northern South America, long-tailed weasels have soft brown fur dorsally while the ventral fur is yellowish white. The black-tipped tail is nearly half the length of the body. The head is usually darker than the body. Active throughout the entire year, in northern areas long-tailed weasels’ fur is white in winter, but the tip of the tail remains black. Usually solitary, these weasels have powerful anal scent glands that emit a powerful, disagreeable odor to mark territory or when disturbed.
Leonard and I marvel at how we always see something interesting on our daily “social distancing” hikes in Ash Creek Wildlife Area, Lassen County CA.