Short-tailed Weasel

A short-tailed weasel investigating a shiny object during a monitoring project.
A short-tailed weasel investigates a shiny object during a monitoring project.

NPS Photo

Short-Tailed Weasel - Mustela erminea olympica

The Olympic short-tailed weasel is endemic to the Olympic Peninsula. Though short-tailed weasels are found elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, the ones in the Olympics do not turn white in preparation for winter. They have a brownish coat with a yellowish-colored underside year-round. These creatures are long and slender, allowing them to fit into nests and burrows of their prey. Despite their short legs, weasels are fast and strong creatures, often preying upon mammals larger than themselves. Their shorter tail distinguishes them from the long-tailed weasel.

The Olympic short-tailed weasel inhabits the lowland forests, up into the subalpine zone. Thee excellent swimmers that they are, weasels are most often found in open habitats near water, living in burrows of squirrels, chipmunks, and other small rodents that became prey to the weasel.

Weasels are carnivores, feeding mainly on small rodents. They are fast and strong, and have the capability of catching snowshoe hares which easily outweigh them. If given the chance, weasels will kill more than they can eat and store the remainder by burying it and enjoying it later.

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Last updated: July 9, 2020

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