Common Names: Short-tailed Weasel, Stout, Royskatt
The ermine is found all over Canada, northern USA, and Eurasia.
The Ermine lives in northern biomes such as taigas and tundras.
The Siberian tundra is a vast land that is almost completely dark
during the winter season because of its far north location. Also,
the climate in winter is extremely cold. In fact, the Siberian Tundra
is the coldest biome in the world. In the summer the Siberian tundra
has many bogs and puddles scattered around the land because permafrost
won't let the winter snow drain off. It is during the summer that
most of the animals come out. Although the climate remains fairly
cold, the Siberian Tundra is bright with sunshine. Ermines like
to inhabit marshes, open spaces or rocky areas next to woodlands.
The ermine is well adapted to living in this harsh environment.
They make their dens in the old roots of a tree or in the crevice
of a rock. Ermines are capable of having several dens.
Ermines may make their dens in the roots of trees farther south,
but there are no trees on the tundra.
ermine is a small animal that weighs between 3 - 15 ounces. The
head and body length can range from 7 - 13 inches and the tail can
grow up to 5 inches. The males are much longer than the females.
In the spring and summer the ermine's coat is chocolate brown with
a white underbelly and a black tip on the tail. In the winter the
coat turns entirely white except for the black end of its tail.
The ermine's flexible spine allows it to do the "marten run"
in which the hind feet are tucked in by the front feet, causing
the back to arch, and then extended. Since the ermine is a carnivore,
it has 34 sharp teeth. It has short legs and a long body and neck.
The head is triangular shaped with small round ears, small, bright
eyes and long whiskers.
The male ermine reaches maturity at 12 months. The female reaches
maturity at 2 months of age. The mating season is during late spring
and summer. They have babies every year. Three to thirteen young
are born each mating season. The birth size of the ermine is a half
an ounce. When the kits [babies] are 8 weeks old their mother teaches
them to how to hunt. After the mother teaches them how to hunt the
female kits [babies] are ready to mate. The males aren't ready to
mate and leave their mothers the next spring. The females might
stay under their mother's protection in her territory. Ermines are
very territorial. The female ermine has the sole responsibility
of raising the young. The males do not usually help raise the young.
An Ermine's life span is 4 to 7 years. Aside from raising young,
the ermine is a solitary animal.
The ermine is a carnivore and eats rabbits, small insects and
rodents. Because of their sharp teeth they are able to catch animals
larger than themselves. In different habitats ermines will eat birds
or amphibians. It will also eat most small mammals. When the ground
is covered with snow the ermine will hunt entirely under the snow
for small rodents.
Their ermine paws have claws which enables it to dig. The front
feet are smaller than the back which helps it fit into small, tight
spaces. The coat of the ermine changes with the seasons and camouflages
it from predators. In winter the ermine's coat is white blending
in with the snowy environment. In warmer seasons the fur turns brown
again matching the color of the landscape.
its Siberian tundra habitat ermines prey on a range of small animals
and birds. In a different environment ermines are know to sneak
into barns for a meal of chicken eggs. They are very adaptable in
their diet depending on where they live. In their Siberian environment
the ermine is prey to snowy owls, arctic foxes, lynx, gyrfalcons,
hawks and other large mammals and birds of prey.
When it starts to get colder in Autumn the ermine sheds its
brown coat it wore in spring and summer, and grows a new white coat
for winter camouflage. A long time ago during the Middle Ages the
fur of the white phase of the Ermine was popular in clothing. Now
ermines are almost never used in clothing. Ermines are neither threatened