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Long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata).—John H. Gerard
Any of several genera (carnivore family Mustelidae) of voracious nocturnal predators found throughout the Americas, Africa, and Eurasia. Weasels have slender bodies and necks, small flat heads, short legs, clawed toes, dense short fur, and slim pointed tails. The size and relative length of the tail vary among species. Their total length is 7–20 in. (17–50 cm), and they may weigh 1–12 oz (30–350 g). The approximately 10 New World and Eurasian species of Mustela are reddish brown; in cold regions, their winter coat turns white, and the pelt, especially of the stoat (M. erminea), is called ermine. Weasels generally hunt alone, feeding on rodents, fish, frogs, and birds' eggs.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on weasel, visit Britannica.com.