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Weasel Family | Songbirds | Waterfowl | Birds of Prey | Night Species

Weasel Family

Members of the weasel family vary greatly in size, appearance, and behavior, but they all have low-slung bodies, short legs, and short, rounded ears. Most are nocturnal, so the best time to look for them is at dusk and dawn.

Weasels are long and slender. They have brown bodies with white underparts and a black tip on the tail. In winter, they turn completely white except for the tail tip. Adult males are about 12 inches long (including the tail); females are half that size. Weasels spend most of their time on the ground hunting.


Minks are long and thin, but larger than weasels. Adult males are 20-30 inches long (including the tail). Their bodies are chocolate brown to black except for white chin patches. They live and hunt on the ground near water and are good swimmers.

Martens are taller and stouter than mink. Adults are about two feet long, including their long, bushy tails. They usually have orange or buff-colored throat patches. Secretive and elusive, martens spend most of the time in the trees and are rarely seen.


River otter
The river otter has an elongated body that is very stout and muscular. Adults are 3-4 feet long (including the tail). Otters are chocolate brown on top with lighter brown bellies and silvery chin patches. They are master swimmers and spend nearly all of their time in or near water. Otters are active during the day, but they are very sensitive to human disturbance.

Badgers have low, wide bodies, short, bowed legs, and long, sharp claws. Adult males are 2-3 feet long; females, somewhat shorter. Their shaggy, coarse fur is mostly grizzled gray, while their legs and snouts are nearly black. The distinctive facial pattern is unmistakable. Badgers live in open fields, farmland, and on woods edges.

Fisher (not pictured)
The fisher has a long body, short legs, large feet, a long bushy tail, and dark fur. Adult males are 3 to 4 feet long and adult females are 2.5 to 3 feet long. They are very adaptable to their environment, but avoid open areas that have no overhead cover. They generally stay on the ground, but do climb trees well. Contrary to its name, the fisher does not feed on fish, but on a variety of foods from small mammals and carrion to insects, fruits, and nuts. The fisher is one of the few predators that can successfully hunt and eat porcupines.


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