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Weasel

Braided River Status

Uncommon but periodically found along braided rivers.

Description

Introduced into New Zealand in the mid 1800s, the weasel (Mustela nivalis vulgar) or least weasel is  member of the mustelid family, along with the larger stoats and the much larger ferrets

Similar in colour and general appearance to stoats, weasels are much less common and have distinctly shorter tails. Like stoats, there is a clear demarkation in colour from the reddish brown fur on their backs and their yellow-white belly fur. Male weasels are 200mm long and weigh 130g. Female are 170-240mm and weight  60g.  In alpine areas some stoats develop a pure white winter fur, though this is rare in New Zealand. They are known to be predated by cats, an aspect of the complex predator guild not well-understood on braided rivers.

weasels

weasels

Why are they a problem?

  • While they are not as much of a problem as stoats, they are also agile, excellent climbers, that hunt at any time, day or night
  • Known predators of some native birds, and particularly native reptiles and invertebrates

Conservation Activities

More information

Research papers

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