Have you ever seen a long, slender creature with short legs that resembles an accordion or inchworm by its long, looping gait running through a meadow or swampy area? If so, you might have spotted a long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata.) These animals are Frederick County native members of the Mustelid family. Mustelids have anal glands that emit a foul smell when they are excited or angry. The most common member of the mustelid is the skunk. However, other mustelids include the weasel, otter, mink, fisher, badger, and wolverine. Throughout Maryland, we have weasels, skunks, otters, mink, and fishers as part of our wildlife.
Long-tailed weasels can be spotted running through meadows or swampy areas of Frederick County.
Weasels are very common in Maryland but seldom seen due to their elusive nature and mostly nocturnal habits. The long-tailed weasel grows to 5-18 inches long and may reach 2-3 lbs. in weight. This weasel has a brown or red upper coat and a white belly. Long-tailed weasels will develop an all-white coat in the northern part of their range. As carnivores, they prey upon rodents, squirrels, insects, and birds, and their long, narrow body allows them to follow prey into their burrows. The weasel has a very high metabolism and will often eat 40% of its body weight in a single feeding. A weasel can climb trees, is a good swimmer, and does not hibernate. Upon making a kill, the weasel will usually lap its victim’s blood, resulting in folklore that they are vampires.
Article by FCFCDB member
Nature Note for 1/22/2017