Weasels

Two badgers at their den
Two Badgers at their den.

NPS

Members of the weasel family play an important role here at Devils Tower. They keep the small mammals of the monument in check, praying upon the prairie dogs, mice, voles and other rodents around the park.

Weasel Family

Long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata)

Mink (Mustela vison)

Badger (Taxidea taxus)

Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

 
Long-tailed Weasel
Long-tailed Weasel

NPS

Long-tailed weasel
(Mustela frenata)

Quick facts:

•Here at Devils Tower, Long-tailed weasels are seen in prairie dog town near the river and the Tower.
•The fur of a long-tailed weasel is light brown on the back, and buff to rusty orange on the stomach and chest in summer; they are all white in winter, except for tail, which is tipped with black all year.
•Long-tailed weasels grow to about 13–18 inches long and weigh about 5 to 11 ounces.
•Weasels are active all year long, preying upon insects, mice, voles, rabbits, birds and their eggs, fish, amphibians, lizards and carrion. They need to eat a lot to survive due to high activity and the need to keep warm in a body that doesn’t retain heat well. One of the prey items they like here at Devils Tower is the black-tailed prairie dog.
•They are found in forests, open grassy meadows and marshes, and near water.
•Long-tailed weasels breed between June and August. The pregnancy goes through a process called delayed implantation, where the fetus goes into a dormant state during a portion of its gestation then is born when conditions are best for survival, usually in April or May.
•They usually have anywhere from 4-8 young.
 

Mink (Mustela vison)

Quick facts:

• The American mink’s fur is usually dark brown to black, often with white patches on the chin, throat, chest and 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.
•The semi-aquatic nature of the mink has led to semi-webbed feet on the base of the toes.
•Mink measure from 12 to 18 inches in length and can weigh 1 to 3 lbs. The tail adds as much as 5 to 9 inches to a mink’s length.
•They are mostly nocturnal, but have been seen during the day, looking for their prey. They eat muskrats, rabbits, squirrels, mice, fish, insects, amphibians, mollusks, lizards, birds and eggs.
•Mink can dive up to 16 to 19 feet deep and swim underwater for up 115 feet.
•They like to live in the riparian areas around the Belle Fourche river amongst the vegetation hanging over the river.
•The American mink’s breeding season occurs in February to March. The 2 to 8 young are born 40 to 75 days later. The gestation is usually 30 days, but the mink often delay implantation so that the young are born at the best time of the year.
 
Two badgers at their den
Two Badgers sitting in their den.

NPS

Badger (Taxidea taxus)

Quick facts:

•Badgers are uncommon here at Devils Tower, but they like to take advantage of the ready made burrows in the prairie dog town with the added good access to their prey, the prairie dogs.
•Badgers have a large squat flat body with short legs and a long wedge shaped face. The body has long, sandy, salt and pepper fur with a white and black striped face. The 4 black stripes run down the face from the back of the head to the tip of the nose.
•They measure 20" to 35” in length and weigh 9 to 26 pounds.
•Their short, powerful legs and long claws assist them in digging their prey out of burrows and digging dens.
•Badgers are rodent eaters. They love ground squirrels and prairie dogs, but will also eat chipmunks, woodrats and gophers.
•A badger’s habitat is the open, grassy, plains like we have here in the prairie dog town.
•Excavated dens are used for daytime resting sites, food storage, and giving birth.
•Breeding most often occurs in July and August. There is often a delayed implantation for up to 6th months, with gestation resuming between December and February and the young are born 6 weeks later.
•1 to 5 young badgers are born between February and May in a specialized den dug just for the birth and raising the young.
 
Striped skunk on a trail cam.
Striped skunk on a trail cam.

NPS

Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

Quick facts:

•The striped skunk is commonly seen at Devils Tower National Monument in the fields and low-lying areas around the base of the tower.
•About the size of a house cat, the striped skunk may be recognized by its black body, the narrow white stripe up the middle of the forehead, and the large white stripe that starts at the top of the head, divides into two stripes down the back to come together to add white to the black tail.
•Skunks range in weight from 2 to 14 lbs. and run from 18 to 32 inches.
•The most distinctive attribute of the skunk is the stinky musk that is sprayed when the skunk feels threatened.
•Skunks are nocturnal and forage all night, returning to day beds and burrows at dawn.
•They are omnivorous and will eat anything from eggs to insects, fruit to small mammals.
•Striped skunks are commonly found in a variety of habitats including forests, wooded ravines and grassy plains.
•Peak breeding season for skunks occurs February to April, and may exhibit delayed implantation. They young are born in May or June.
•Striped Skunks have 5 to 6 young in self excavated burrows or the adopted burrows of badgers, foxes, woodchucks or muskrats.
 

Last updated: August 5, 2018

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 10
Devils Tower, WY 82714

Phone:

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

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