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