Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mystery White Critter

On Maine Nature News, the following intriguing entry was posted:
Monday, March 13. Poland (Map 5) I thought my cat had tangled with a skunk. But the smell was not really strong. I found a dead critter in our drive. At first I first thought it was an albino squirrel. But upon closer inspection it seemed more like a ferret: all white except black tail, pink nose, black eyes. A friend told me to check out the web and I found you. My February 22 journal seems to match. Can you offer any photos or sites for info. G.
Elsewhere online, on ctfisherman.com, I found the following description, posted by fishy1 (Member # 1139) on April 23, 2005:

In the same area of Maine, had a weasel in winter, Ermine, jump up on a log and look at me. Beautiful creature, black eyes and black tip on the tail, and pure white fur.

An earlier post on Maine Nature News from 20032 mentions another sighting:
Tuesday, January 21, 12:25 pm. Orono (Map 23) While cross-country skiing in the University of Maine's forest I observed an ermine cross the trail in front of me. Except for pictures I've never seen an ermine before but knew immediately that this small weasel with a white coat and black tipped tail was an ermine in its winter coloration. The coat was not pure white but more of an ivory color as it contrasted a bit with the snow. It was about 20 feet in front of me when it darted across the trail. On the opposite side of the trail it paused and stood up on its hind legs. At this point I noted it had something dark in its mouth that was about the size of a walnut. M.M.L.
The ermine, otherwise known as the short-tailed weasel or stoat, is a special favorite of William T. Stands, who has an excellent account of them on his page, where he requests any sightings or stories about the critters be sent to him (address given on page).

The ermine, according to the Maine Mammal Information Table, is small, with short brown fur (white in winter), and a black tipped tail year round. Its size averages about 7 to 13 inches long, it stands 2 to 3 inches tall, and it weighs from 1 to 6 ounces in weight. It is found lolloping around in brushland, open fields, and wetlands, where it hunts for mice mainly, but also shrews, baby rabbits and birds. Predominantly nocturnal, the ermine is also a tree climber, and investigates holes when hunting. It births from 4 to 9 babies in its litter sometime between May and June each year.

And it is very cute.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We just saw an ermine hunting in our back yard. It chased a small squirrel up and Dow a tree, eventually causing it to fall about 20 feet into the snow. The ermine leaped from about 13 feet in hot pursuit and eventually caught it near another tree. Very fast!

tom Muller - Poland