The Advantages and Disadvantages of Small Size to Weasels, Mustela Species

  • Carolyn M. King


The weasels (Mustela spp.) are a group of small mustelid carnivores that originated in the late Pliocene and are now distributed throughout the Holarctic region. Mustela erminea, the stoat or ermine, is circumboreal north of about 40°N. M. nivalis is sympatric with erminea over most of the same area. It includes two distinct subspecies, the common weasel of western Europe and Britain (M. n. vulgaris Erxleben 1777), and the least weasel of northern Scandinavia, USSR, and North America (M. n. nivalis Linnaeus 1766), which are different in appearance and range (Stolt 1979) but interbreed in captivity (F. Frank, pers. comm.). A third species, M. frenata, the long-tailed weasel, is confined to America, from about 50°N to about 15°S.


Body Size Snow Cover Sexual Selection Sexual Dimorphism Prey Size 
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  • Carolyn M. King

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