Essay Writing Help on The Long-Tailed Weasel

The Long-Tailed Weasel

Natural History

The long-tailed weasel pictured below is one of the commonest animals found in Francisco Bay Area in northern California. They go by the scientific name Mustela frenata. The original weasel were larger creatures but went gradual reduction in size with time in order to feed on different sources of food. It was necessitated by the reason that their initial natural habitat that was mainly forests had greatly reduced and replaced by grasslands, giving room for massive evolution of rodents and other smaller animals.

Habitat Preference

            These animals live in a variety of natural habitats. They are mainly found in open areas, such as farmland and in thickets and woodlands. They are found in those areas that are near waters and will prefer habitats that are near adequate prey. However, these animals are keen to avoid dense forests. They live in small dens that have several entrances and well covered with mouse fur and/or grass.

Ecological Role

            Weasels are carnivorous, and therefore prey on a variety of smaller rodents, such as rabbits and mice. For this reason, they play an important role in controlling the number of rodents that are economically harmful. They also provide food for animals higher in the food web, such as owls and goshawks.

Description

            Weasels are relatively small-sized mammals with a tail of 10-16cm in length. The tails have distinct dark tip. Their total length ranges from 30-35 cm. In daylight, their eyes appear black but when hit by a flashlight; they grow bright green in dim light. They have small ears and a pointed nose. They are covered with fur that is of high economic value because of its size, density, and color. They move in quick movements that are useful for their hunting. They are mostly active at night and in most cases, they are seen to hunt in pairs. For communication, these animals produce different vocalizations, such as squeaks and purrs. On average, they can feed up to 33% of their total weight a day. Often, they store left over for later consumption.

Adaptation

            These animals are small in size, and this helps them follow their prey in small holes, bushes, and between rocks. They have a strong sense of smell that helps them to follow the scent trails of their target and pounce on them unaware. They are also very quick and swift in their movements and attacking, minimizing the chances of the prey escaping. They also have strong teeth that they use to pierce the base of the skull of the preys, killing them instantly. These quick movements also help them run away from their predators while the small size makes them hide from owls and hawks with ease.

            They are long enduring animals and will chase the preys to their last hideout. This is possible because of their masculine bodies as well as short legs adapted for a long chase. This enables them to cover up to 11KM in a single chase. Their claws help them in ascending trees in pursuit of the prey. They are also good swimmers, helping them to chase after preys as well as running from the predators.       

            During winter, weasels turn white apart from the black tip of the tail. This provides them with camouflage from their predators. When frightened, these animals release strong smell to keep away the predator. This smell also attracts mate during the mating period. They are also brave animals that help them to confront preys that are much bigger than them.

            After birth, the young ones grow rapidly and can crawl and feed on meat at the mere age of 3 weeks. This fast growth rate is necessary for preparation for the harsh environment of cold and predation. The production and population is naturally controlled due to the difference in the maturity period of the males and the females. Whereas the females can reproduce at the age of 3-4 months, the males are only ready for reproduction at a late age of 15-18 months. This separation in maturity periods helps in controlling their population.