Least Weasel
(Mustela nivalis) #65-151

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Physical characteristics and distribution

Least Weasel Mustela nivalis

M. nivalis is the smallest carnivore with a head and body length of 114-260 mm, tail length is 17-78 mm. Weights range from 25-250 grams. Coloration varies with the seasons; during the warmer months the pelage is brown above and white below, in the winter the entire coat is white with the possibility of a few black hairs at the tip of the tail.

Like M. erminea, the Least Weasel may be found in a variety of habitats including open tundra and deep forests. Preference seems to be for areas with rocky or vegetative cover. Several dens close together may be constructed in hollow trees, rocky crevices, or abandoned rodent burrows.

Births may occurs throughout the year and generally 5 young are born after a gestation period of 35-37 days, though litters may number 3-10 offspring. Females are capable of having more than one litter each year. Babies are weaned at 24 days and reach sexual maturity at 4 months.

The diet of M. nivalis consists almost entirely of small rodents and the Least Weasel may store food for the winter.

M. nivalis is found in Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Corsica, Crete, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan (Hokkaido and Honshu), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, mMongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand (introduced), Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sardinia, Serbia and Montenegro, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, USA, (Alaska and most of the USA except SW), Ukraine.

Description of the brain

Animal source and preparation
All specimens collected followed the same preparation and histological procedure.

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