Animals / Mammal Facts / Weasels - Omnivore Mustelid Family Found All Over

Weasels - Omnivore Mustelid Family Found All Over


standing looking weasel

White weasel scanning the territory

 

Weasels are a big family (Mustelidae) of crafty omnivore mammals found all over except in Australia. Although somewhat lesser known than other carnivore families like the cats - felines, dogs - canines and bears; there are more species in this family (67) than in these other family groups and the species count approaches all the species in those 3 families combined.

There are four main sub groups. First, the otters from 11 - 88 lbs (5 - 40 kg) are adapted to swimming in fresh or salty waters and eat fish and shellfish. The giant otter can be 5 ft (15 m). Then there are the the widely distributed badgers from 1.5 - 24 lbs (0.6 - 10.9 kg) that are big diggers and often specialize in eating earthworms. This group includes the large and very powerful wolverine. Most have black and white facial coloration. Next, the skunk group of North America 1 - 5 lbs (0.4 - 2 kg) are terrestrial omnivores that have specialized stink bomb glands for use against unwanted predators. Lastly, there is the diverse weasel group with the animals known simply as "weasels" but also including mink, martens, sable, ermine and ferrets (and used car salesmen). They are the smallest of the group with long and thin bodies that can be just 0.15 - 5 lbs (0.06 - 2.3 kg). Although the mongoose is somewhat similar in appearance to the weasels it belongs to another carnivore group - the civets.

All of the weasel family is more numerous in temperate regions than in tropical ones, although otters are found around the world. Another tropical weasel is the tayra, that lives partly in the trees and may attack monkeys.

 

 

tayra

Tayra from the Caribbean

 

brown mother and cub

Brown mink mother carrying cub

 

angry badger

Angry badger

 

skunks

Skunks

 

 

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