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.

14 comments:

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

Anonymous said...

I just saw a cute one in my back yard in Brewer.

David St.Jean said...

I have a few in Troy they are elusive see lots of tracks and didn't know what it was till I saw one and looked at those tracks

Anonymous said...

Found one dead in our camper this afternoon.

Mike said...

I live in Crawford, which is downeast, near Calais. I found a dead ermine exactly like the picture under our house while repairing broken water pipes earlier this winter, and another dead one today in our barn, must be a nest nearby.

TheGarrison said...

I live in Casco around Thompson Lake. This morning after watching a cute pair of frolicking gray squirrels I noted a new critter. I spotted a cute little white ferret in my back yard. He had a streak of gray down his back and he was attempting to climb a standing dead tree in the yard. He jumped up a few times before moving to another side of the bark free trunk. He finally got his footing in one of the woodpecker holes and managed to climb the trunk. He disappeared up the tree stump (it's about 15 feet tall). I ran for my new digital camera. When I returned he was no where to be found. :-( Apparently he is an ermine in winter coat.
What a special day for me!

Michelle Souliere said...

Hi TheGarrison!

That is really exciting -- maybe you'll be able to snag a photo if he returns for more visits before his coat turns for spring. :D

-Michelle

Dave said...

We just recently caught a pure white weasel in our home with a live trap. Released him back into the woods on about 50 acres. Have several good photos and videos. Cute little guy.

Michelle Souliere said...

Hi Dave! Wow, that must have been a surprise to find! :) Glad you documented him -- feel free to email the photos to me, I'd be happy to post them on the blog (with all due credit). :) It's fascinating to see these seldom-seen fellows in their winter best!

Anonymous said...

Kevin Lyons, Harmony, Maine. I just had a tiny ferret looking rodent on the stairs inside my house. He saw me and hid somewhere. He was about 7 inches long with white fur and a black tipped tail. My cat is now going crazy. The cat didn't see him, but knows something is in here. I've never seen one before, so I don't know if it's a long tailed weasel or an ermine, but he was really cute. Hoping he gets out before the cat gets him. They don't live in houses, do they? There are a lot of mice here. I'm hoping that he was just visiting and is in the process of going back outside. So, is it an ermine or a weasel?

Unknown said...

Feb 11, 2019....just saw one in my back yard, in York, Maine. I thought it may be someone's pet ferret...so adorable! Never seen one before!

Anonymous said...

My son,dog and I just saw a cute and seemingly curious Ermine in our driveway here in Naples. Our dog was calmly checking something out under my car... very unlike him not to bark his head off...Anyhow the snowy white little guy just leisurely came out, looked at us, then strolled briskly into a nook between our house and foundation.(same pathway the voles use) We have a small protected wet land pond on one side of our house and a stream that runs year round on the other. We hope to see him again!

Anonymous said...

The Ermine was back today in our driveway in Naples! He came out from under the space in the snow around our foundation ( the vole & cipmunk trail ) even though he saw the dog & I. I'm guessing we might be shy a few small rodents come spring from what we are reading about Ermine! It was fun to see him in the daylight to get a better look at him. He really is cute!

FZX5 said...

My cat cornered a very lively (and chirpy) small weasel/ermine/ferret in my bathroom late last night. What a cute little critter! It was white, maybe 10 inches long, including its black-tipped tail which was almost as long as its body.
Didn't get a photo...it was too quick for me. I let it go outside after trapping it in a canvas bag, though it may be residing somewhere inside this winter...I've heard something moving in the walls and caught flashes of a tail in the entry between the kitchen and laundry room.