MOUNTAIN WEASEL/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus



DESCRIPTION: The Mountain or Pale or Altai Weasel is perhaps the commonest weasel of India. Like most mustelids, it has a flat, narrow skull, a long, cylindrical body, short, close-set ears and short legs. The head is short and the dentition, being suited to a predatory diet, has fewer molars than the martens have. It is larger than the stoat but smaller than the Siberian Weasel. It undergoes two moults during spring and autumn and, therefore, has two colour phases; brownish above and creamy yellow below in the winters, and slightly more grey in its dorsal fur in the summers. Its head can be slightly greyer than the body. Its lips and cheek have small white patches, and its paws are conspicuously white. Its long, spindly tail, which is 40 per cent of the head and body, is the same colour as its back. This characteristic easily distinguishes it from the other white-pawed mustelid, the Stoat, which has a black tip to its tail. Sexes are approximately the same size. The number of mammae seems to be variable between two and four.

BEHAVIOUR: It does not hibernate, but winters in deep holes in the ground.

DISTRIBUTION: The Himalayas from Jammu & Kashmir to Sikkim.

HABITAT: Alpine meadows, temperate and evergreen forests.

 Size: 22–28 cm

IUCN Status: Near Threatened


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