Weasels

Weasels and their relatives make a group of small to medium-sized predators within the park. Generally carnivorous, many are opportunistic and omnivorous, changing their diet with seasonally available food. The animals detailed on this page are:

  • Long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata)
  • American mink (Mustela vison)
  • American badger (Taxidea taxus)
  • Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
 
An animal with a long body clinging to a large rock
Weasels like to hunt in the boulder field at Devils Tower, which is home to many chipmunks and other small mammals. The rock crevices also provide excellent den sites for these animals.

NPS

Long-tailed Weasel

  • Quick and elusive, you may spot a long-tailed weasel in prairie dog town or the boulder field at the base of the Tower
  • Fur is light brown in summer and white in winter
  • Length of 13–18 inches; weight between 5 to 11 ounces
  • Prey mostly on small rodents or squirrels, but diet can includes animals as large as rabbits or as small as insects; may also predate eggs and young birds
  • Dens in ground burrows, generally created by other creatures (like chipmunks)
  • Have 4-8 kits per litter, born in April or May; breeding occurs in summer but gestation is delayed so young are born when food is most abundant
 
A small brown animal in tall grass near a river
This mink was seen devouring a leopard frog along the Belle Fourche River within the park. Mink find most of their food while in the water.

NPS / Johnnie Welborn Jr.

American Mink

  • Fur is dark brown to black, often with white patches on the chin, throat, chest, or belly
  • The fur of the mink is soft with a thick, warm layer of underfur and longer, oily guard hairs which make the coat water-resistant
  • Considered semi-aquatic, meaning they spend a great deal of time in the water; they have webbed feet to aid this behavior
  • Measure from 20 to 24 inches in length (including a tail up to 8 inches long) and weigh about 2 pounds
  • Feed mostly on fish and other aquatic animals (crayfish, mullosks, frogs, etc.), but will also eat small mammals and birds
  • Mink can dive up to 19 feet deep and swim underwater for up 115 feet
  • Within the park, most likely seen in or near the river or prairie dog town
  • Breeds in February or March and litters of 6 to 10 kits are born about 2 months later
 
Two badgers at their den
Badgers create dens underground, often excavated from prairie dog burrows. Their large front claws help them dig rapidly into the prairie soils.

NPS

American Badger

  • Most likely seen in prairie dog town during twilight or night
  • Large body with short legs; fur is salt and pepper color with a white and black striped face
  • They measure 20" to 35” in length and weigh 9 to 26 pounds
  • Have powerful legs and long claws to rapidly dig into burrows of prey animals
  • Fossorial predator, meaning they eat burrowing animals (prairie dogs, other rodents, and snakes are most common)
  • Very defensive, to the point of being aggressive toward most other creatures (including humans)
  • Create dens for sleeping, food storage, and giving birth
  • Breeding occurs in July and August with delayed implantation; young are born in early spring (March-April)
 
A small black and white mammal in tall grass.
Trail cameras are a safe way to capture images of this notorious animal. Skunks will only spray if threatened. If you see one raise its tail, back away!

NPS Trail Camera

Striped Skunk

  • May be seen in open fields or forested habitat; most active at night
  • Distinctive black fur with two white stripes running the length of its body and combining to one stripe at the tail
  • Not actually a weasel, they are in the related family Mephitidae
  • Average 2 feet long and weigh between 4 and 10 pounds
  • Highly omnivorous; diet includes eggs, insects, fruit, and small mammals
  • Has two scent glands near the anus which produce the hallmark spray, a powerful defensive adaptation
  • Most common predators include owls, hawks, and eagles, which can ambush a skunk before it releases the defensive musk
  • Breed from February to April; 2-12 kits are born in May or June
 

Last updated: April 8, 2019

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 10
Devils Tower, WY 82714

Phone:

(307) 467-5283 x635
Devils Tower National Monument Visitor Center Phone Number

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