There are several types of North American weasels, including least weasels, long-tailed weasels, and stoats or short-tailed weasels. Predatory by nature, weasels mostly eat small rodents, are notorious for occasionally stealing chicken eggs, and sometimes participate in surplus killing sprees that leave entire families of chipmunks and other small animals dead. Contrary to popular belief, however, weasels do not kill other animals solely for blood.
Biology & Behavior
Weasels are active in both winter and summer; they do not hibernate. Weasels are commonly thought to be nocturnal but evidence indicates they are more diurnal in summer than in winter. Home range sizes vary with habitat, population density, season, sex, food availability, and species (Svendsen 1982). The least weasel has the smallest home range. Males use 17 to 37 acres (7 to 15 ha), females 3 to 10 acres (1 to 4 ha). The short-tailed weasel is larger than the least weasel and has a larger home range. Male short-tailed weasels use an average of 84 acres (34 ha), and females 18 acres (7 ha), according to snow tracking. The long-tailed weasel has a home range of 30 to 40 acres (12 to 16 ha), and males have larger home ranges in summer than do females. The weasels appear to prefer hunting certain coverts with noticeable regularity but rarely cruise the same area on two consecutive nights. Weasel population densities vary with season, food availability, and species. In favorable habitat, maximum densities of the least weasel may reach 65 per square mile (169/km2); the short-tailed weasel, 21 per square mile (54/km2); and the long-tailed weasel, 16 to 18 per square mile (40 to 47/km2). Population densities fluctuate considerably with year-to-year changes in small mammal abundance, and densities differ greatly among habitats. Weasels, like all mustelids, produce a pungent odor. When irritated, they discharge the odor, which can be detected at some distance. Long-tailed weasels mate in late summer, mostly from July through August. Females are induced ovulator’s and will remain in heat for several weeks if they are not bred. There is a long delay in the implantation of the blastocyst in the uterus, and the young are born the following spring, after a gestation period averaging 280 days. Average litters consist of 6 young, but litters may include up to 9 young. The young are blind at birth and their eyes open in about 5 weeks. They mature rapidly and at 3 months of age the females are fully grown. Young females may become sexually mature in the summer of their birth year.
What Does a Weasel Sound Like?
Weasel sounds serve a variety of purposes. Loud, high-pitched squeaking is usually a response to a threat, while trills and low whistles are friendly greetings. Noises range from soft barks and hisses to chirps and calls.
Problems With Weasel Noises
When frightened or cornered, weasels may hiss or create shrill warning squeals. Many species are nocturnal, so these noises often occur at night. Loud weasel sounds in the yard can keep residents awake.
The scat that weasels leave behind is similar between species, with the exception that the smaller types create smaller scat. The color is normally a dark shade of black or brown. The scat is thin, long, usually in segments and tapered at one end. In many instances, weasels scat contains small pieces of bone or the hair of its latest meal. Search for this sign of weasels on logs, stumps or rocky outcroppings, where weasels like to defecate.
While many homeowners benefit from the presence of weasels as they often control rodent populations, weasels can be a nuisance when they gain access to poultry houses and prey on fowl or pets.
Signs of weasels and their damage include:
- Killed poultry, often bitten in the head or neck
- Stolen poultry eggs
- Killed rabbits
- Weasel tracks: small footprints with five toes and visible clawmarks on each foot
Commonly ASKED QUESTIONS?
What do you do with trapped animals?
That answer depends on the state in which you live. Each state has their own laws that dictate what we must do when it comes to controlling wildlife on your property. In some states, we can trap, transfer and release the animals. In some states we can trap the animals, but we can only release them back onto your own property. If you don’t want the animal released on your property, it must be humanely euthanized. Sometimes we don’t even need to trap the animal and a simple exclusion device (one-way door) can be installed to allow the animal to exit your home and be locked out.
How much does it cost to remove an animal?
There are a number of factors that determine pricing; location of the animal (i.e. – chimney, attic, crawl, wall void, living area), condition of the animal (i.e. – sick, aggressive, dead), location and condition of the property and time of year (i.e. – weather condition, offspring present?). Generally speaking, pricing will vary by location and species for just the animal removal and that pricing usually does not include the entry repair.
I think I have birds in my chimney, can you get them out?
The answer to that question is most likely “Yes”, but are you sure what you’re hearing is birds? Raccoons easily invade chimneys and they have their litters on the smoke shelf of fireplaces. The sounds baby raccoons make are often mistaken for birds in chimneys and removal can be difficult. The only birds that nest in chimneys are chimney swifts and they’re federally protected, so removal can’t be performed, but exclusion can be – once they depart. If you have a pre-fabricated chimney and birds fall between the cooling tubes, removal is nearly impossible.
How soon can you get here?
Office hours vary from franchise to franchise, but generally speaking, office hours are 8am – 6pm M-F and 9am – 3pm on Saturdays.
“Prompt service and got the raccoon out of our chimney easily. No mess. Very friendly guys! Thanks for you help!”
“Zack and Jerry were nice, clean, fast, very professional, got those raccoons out of our attic nice and quick, they don’t try to over sell you, no pressure, I very much recommend them…”
“Zack and his tech at Critter Removers were excellent! They were always quick to respond! They made us feel like we were a priority. They were knowledgeable about the best way to go about solving our raccoon problem.”
“They were quick to respond, and very efficient. They even responded to my call very early in the morning. I had a mom and 3 very big, very loud baby raccoons in my chimney and they were great at taking care of the problem.”
“Zach was great! He answered our several calls late at night and walked us through the process of removing a dead raccoon from our chimney. He worked quickly and efficiently, we were very impressed. We will definitely use him again!”
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