animals fun facts wildlife

5 Facts About Weasels in the Northwest.

Up until last October, I had no idea that there were wild weasels in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t know why but it just never occurred to me that these animals lived in the wild here but it’s true! There are a couple kinds of wild weasels that call the Northwest home. Here are some fun facts about these animals:

[ONE] There are short and long-tailed weasels, distinguishable by the length of their tails! Long-tailed weasels can be found in North America while short-tailed weasels are found in North America, Europe, and Asia. Some short-tailed weasels are even found as far north as the Arctic!

[TWO] Both types of weasels are carnivores and will eat other animals like mice, rabbits, insects, and chipmunks. Short-tailed weasels will also live in the burrows of the animals they kill and will sometimes kill more than they can eat immediately. The extra is buried and eaten later.

[THREE] Many short-tailed weasels in North America will change colors during the winter from brown to white. However, the short-tailed weasels in the Olympic Peninsula don’t! They stay their usual brown all year round.

[FOUR] Weasels are in the same family as otters, fishers, and minks! They are all a part of the Mustelidae family.

[FIVE] Weasels will often eat 40%+ of their body weight each day and will often eat rodents (especially mice!). If mice aren’t around, they’ll also eat birds, fish, insects, pikas, and shrews!

5 comments on “5 Facts About Weasels in the Northwest.

  1. Like you it never occurred to me that I might see a weasel in WA. Watching for birds this morning at our koi pond I saw something stick its head out from between the rocks and dart across the retaining wall. First thought ferret, then thought about it and figured must be a weasel. Looked it up and sure enough. Every year we lose a few koi, figuring it’s big bird (our name for heron that hang out in spring and fall). I see that weasels sometimes eat fish. Could this little dodger be responsible?

    Liked by 1 person

    • So I had to do some quick research and I think that what you might have seen was actually a mink! Like weasels, minks are found in Washington and most of north America. Plus, weasels and minks actually look really similar (and almost like ferrets) but there are some differences, like coloring and diet. Some weasels do swim and eat fish but minks are known for being excellent swimmers and frogs and fish are a part of their diet during warmer months.

      However, I could be wrong! Either way, a weasel or mink could easily steal a couple koi from your pond each year.

      Thank you for your question and I hope you don’t lose too many koi this year!


  2. Alan Clark

    Early this morning I saw a large weasel around the bird feeder, and then moving around the back yard. It was fairly large, dark brown with some light brown edging, and was about 10 – 12 pounds. My guess is that it was a Fisher (Pekania pennanti ) but I didn’t get and pictures or video of the animal. I know they’ve made it to Port Angeles, but didn’t know they’d made it this far. The only other weasel around that looks similar is the Mink (Mustela vison) but they top out at about 3 pounds. The animal I saw was about the size of a medium sized house cat. I have seen Martins, River Otters, Sea Otters, and Short-tailed Weasels before, but this guy was a first for me, if it was a Fisher. I live about a mile from the Dungeness River on the edge of a small, forested section of land.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yesterday, while enjoying the sun in our backyard in Granite falls, we observed a small weasel(?) run along some timbers just a few feet from us. It was slightly bigger than a squirrel and an orange brown color. I didn’t note the length of its tail. Are fishers or minks this color?


    • Unfortunately, I’m not 100% sure! I did some quick Googling and I believe you saw a weasel. Fishers tend to be dark brown and adults are the size of house cats. Weasels of various species can vary in color (including a yellow/orange brown during part of the year) and are a bit smaller.

      However, I’m far from an expert. But it is cool that you saw that animal in your backyard!


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