Ecology

Associations

Known prey organisms

  • P. Larson, J. E. Brittain, L. Lein, A. Lillehammer and K. Tangen, The lake ecosystem of Ovre Heimdalsvatn, Holarctic Ecology 1:304-320, from p. 311 (1978).
  • D. L. Pattie and N. A. M. Verbeek, Alpine birds of the Beartooth Mountains, Condor 68:167-176 (1966); Alpine mammals of the Beartooth Mountains, Northwest Sci. 41(3):110-117 (1967).
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 16, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org. http://www.animaldiversity.org
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:175Public Records:35
Specimens with Sequences:152Public Species:6
Specimens with Barcodes:150Public BINs:8
Species:9         
Species With Barcodes:9         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Mustela

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Wikipedia

Weasel

Weasels /ˈwzəl/ are mammals forming the genus Mustela of the Mustelidae family. The genus includes the weasels, European polecats, stoats, ferrets and European minks. They are small, active predators, long and slender with short legs. The Mustelidae family (which also includes badgers, otters and wolverines) is often referred to as the weasel family. In the UK, the term "weasel" usually refers to the smallest species Mustela nivalis (also known as the least weasel).[1]

Weasels vary in length from 173 to 217 mm (6.8 to 8.5 in),[2] females being smaller than the males, and usually have red or brown upper coats and white bellies; some populations of some species moult to a wholly white coat in winter. They have long, slender bodies, which enable them to follow their prey into burrows. Their tails may be from 34 to 52 mm (1.3 to 2.0 in) long.[2] Weasels have a reputation for cleverness, quickness and guile.

Weasels feed on small mammals, and have from time to time been considered vermin, since some species took poultry from farms, or rabbits from commercial warrens. They can be found all across the world except for Antarctica, Australia, and neighbouring islands.

Terminology[edit]

The English word "weasel" was originally applied to one species of the genus, the European form of the least weasel (Mustela nivalis). This usage is retained in British English, where the name is also extended to cover several other small species of the genus. However, in technical discourse and in American usage, the term "weasel" can refer to any member of the genus, or to the genus as a whole. Of the 17 extant species currently classified in the genus Mustela, ten have "weasel" in their common names. Among those that do not are the stoat, the polecats, the ferret, and the European mink. (The superficially similar American mink is now regarded as belonging in another genus, Neovison.[citation needed])

Species[edit]

The following information is according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

Mustela africanaDesmarest, 1800Amazon weaselSouth America
Mustela altaicaPallas, 1811Mountain weaselEurope & Northern Asia
Southern Asia
Mustela ermineaLinnaeus, 1758Stoat
Ermine
Short-tailed weasel
Europe & Northern Asia
North America
Southern Asia (non-native)
New Zealand (non-native)
Mustela eversmanniiLesson, 1827Steppe polecatEurope & Northern Asia
Southern Asia
Mustela felipeiIzor and de la Torre, 1978Colombian weaselSouth America
Mustela frenataLichtenstein, 1831Long-tailed weaselMiddle America
North America
South America
Mustela itatsiTemminck, 1844Japanese weaselJapan & Sakhalin Is. (Russia)
Mustela kathiahHodgson, 1835Yellow-bellied weaselSouthern Asia
Mustela lutreola(Linnaeus, 1761)European minkEurope & Northern Asia
Mustela lutreolinaRobinson and Thomas, 1917Indonesian mountain weaselSouthern Asia
Mustela nigripes(Audubon and Bachman, 1851)Black-footed ferretNorth America
Mustela nivalisLinnaeus, 1766Least weaselEurope, Northern Asia
North America
Southern Asia (non-native)
New Zealand (non-native)
Mustela nudipesDesmarest, 1822Malayan weaselSouthern Asia
Mustela putoriusLinnaeus, 1758European polecat
Domesticated ferret (ssp. furo)
Europe, northern Asia
New Zealand (ssp. furo) (non-native)
Mustela sibiricaPallas, 1773Siberian weaselEurope, northern Asia
Southern Asia
Mustela strigidorsaGray, 1855Back-striped weaselSouthern Asia
Mustela subpalmataHemprich and Ehrenberg, 1833Egyptian weaselEgypt

1 Europe and northern Asia division excludes China.

The extinct "sea mink" was commonly included in this genus as Mustela macrodon, but in 1999 was moved to the genus Neovison.[3]

Cultural meanings[edit]

Weasels have been assigned a variety of different cultural meanings. In Greek culture, a weasel near the house is a sign of bad luck, even evil, "especially if there is in the household a girl about to be married", since the animal (based on its Greek etymology) was thought to be an unhappy bride who was transformed into a weasel[4] and consequently delights in destroying wedding dresses.[5] In neighboring Macedonia, however, weasels are generally seen as an omen of good fortune.[4][5]

In North America, native Americans deemed the weasel to be a bad sign; crossing its path meant a "speedy death".[6] According to Daniel Defoe also, meeting a weasel is a bad omen.[7]

In early modern Mecklenburg, Germany, amulets from weasels were deemed to have strong magic; the period between August 15 and September 8 was specifically designated for the killing of weasels. In Montagne Noire (France), Ruthenia (Eastern Europe), and in the early medieval culture of the Wends, weasels were not meant to be killed.[8]

Japanese folklore[edit]

In Japan, weasels (鼬、鼬鼠 itachi?) were seen as yōkai from time immemorial, and they cause various strange occurrences. According to the encyclopedia Wakan Sansai Zue from the Edo period, a nate of weasels would cause conflagrations, and the cry of a weasel was considered a harbinger of misfortune. In the Niigata Prefecture, the sound of a nate of weasels making a rustle resembled 6 people hulling rice, and therefore was called the "the weasel's six-person mortar", and it was an omen for one's home to decline or flourish. It is said that when people chase after this sound, the sound stops.[9]

They are also said to shapeshift like the fox (kitsune) or tanuki, and the nyūdō-bōzu told about in legends in the Tōhoku region and the Chūbu region are considered weasels in disguise, and they are also said to shapeshift into ōnyūdō and little monks.[9]

In the collection of depictions, the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Sekien Toriyama, they were depicted under the title 鼬, but they were read not as "itachi" but rather as "ten",[10] and "ten" were considered to be weasels that have reached one hundred years of age and became yōkai that possessed supernatural powers.[11] Another theory is that when weasels reach several hundred years of age, they become mujina.[12]

Kamaitachi[edit]

Kamaitachi are a phenomenon where when one is not doing anything, suddenly one would get injured as if one's skin was cut by a scythe.

In the past this was thought to be "the deed of an invisible yōkai weasel". However, this has been established as a physiological phenomenon that dried skin that receives a shock would tear off.

Also, there is the theory that "kamaitachi" are derived from "kamae tachi (構え太刀 "stance sword"?)", and therefore were not originally related to weasels at all.

In popular culture[edit]

In Kenneth Grahame's classic children's book of 1908, The Wind in the Willows, a pack of armed weasels overrun Toad Hall, and have to be ejected by Badger, Mole, Ratty and Toad.

Weasels Ripped My Flesh is the title of a 1970 album by Frank Zappa, with artwork by Neon Park parodying a 1950s razor advertisement.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Shorter Oxford English dictionary. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 2007. p. 3804. ISBN 0199206872. 
  2. ^ a b "The Weasel". The Mammal Society. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Neovison macrodon (Sea Mink)". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species - Iucnredlist.org. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Lawson, John Cuthbert (2012). Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion: A Study in Survivals. Cambridge UP. pp. 327–28. ISBN 978-1-107-67703-6. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Abbott, George Frederick (1903). Macedonian folklore. Cambridge UP. pp. 108–109. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Brown, Frank C.; Hand, Wayland D. (1977). Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore: Popular Beliefs and Superstitions from North Carolina. Duke UP. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-8223-0259-9. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Hazlitt, William Carew; Brand, John (1905). Faiths and folklore: a dictionary of national beliefs, superstitions and popular customs, past and current, with their classical and foreign analogues, described and illustrated. Reeves and Turner. p. 622. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Thomas, N.W. (September 1900). "Animal Supterstitions and Totemism". Folk-lore 11: 228–67. 
  9. ^ a b 村上健司編著 『妖怪事典』 毎日新聞社、2000年、36頁。ISBN 978-4-6203-1428-0
  10. ^ 高田衛監修 稲田篤信・田中直日編 『鳥山石燕 画図百鬼夜行』 国書刊行会、1992年、50頁。ISBN 978-4-336-03386-4
  11. ^ 少年社・中村友紀夫・武田えり子編 『妖怪の本 異界の闇に蠢く百鬼夜行の伝説』 学習研究社〈New sight mook〉、1999年、123頁。ISBN 978-4-05-602048-9
  12. ^ 草野巧 『幻想動物事典』 新紀元社、1997年、30頁。ISBN 978-4-88317-283-2

References[edit]

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