Photo courtesy of www.weforanimals.com
After seeing a weasel in my yard today, I got on GoogleTM to find out more about it. As soon as I entered w-e-a-s-e-l-s in my Google search bar, it autofilled with "Weasels Ripped My Flesh". Just the sound of it made my blood curl.
Curious, I checked the Weasels Ripped My Flesh link anyway, and listened to samples of the lead cut and title cut from this 1970 Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention album. I quickly discovered why there were no Frank Zappa albums in my home when I was growing up. But I digress.
Anyway, I was again enjoying an afternoon on the deck when something long and slender poked its head out of a hole not 10 feet away. I got just a quick look before it ducked back in the hole. That gave me time to position my binoculars (where was the camera??), and after I visually followed a vole running across the yard (was he fleeing the weasel?), the weasel stuck his head out again, turned and stared me straight in the binoculars.
I got a great look at his top half - dark brown head and body, long slender neck, very shiny fur, rounded ears, and dark eyes. I saw about 5" of him - he retreated without me ever seeing the bottom half of his body.
My Peterson Field Guide to the Mammals helped me narrow it down to either a Shorttail Weasel or Longtail Weasel. Total length and a marking on their hind legs are the differentiating features, neither which I was able to observe.
They are chiefly nocturnal but do hunt during the day. They are expert mousers, with the Longtailed Weasel taking other small mammals up to rabbit size. They may also eat birds and bird eggs.
Here's a link to more information on the weasel.
Weasels play an important role in the ecosystem. They are generally considered a beneficial predator as they seldom endanger the long-term welfare of the animal populations they prey upon (see link above).
I'll try to keep an eye on the Grey Squirrel, Red Squirrel, and Eastern Chipmunk populations around the house to see whether I notice any decrease in their numbers that could be attributed to the weasel.