Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Frenetic Mustelid

I've been cam-trapping this property for about two years.  Just when I think I've got a very complete inventory of the species on-site, I get a surprise!

As we poured through the video footage from our cameras on-site, we saw this (from July 29th).... You may have to "maximize" the clip to see the critter.  It's sort of in the lower right of the frame and you can see the eye-shine in the shrubs a few seconds later.

...and this....(same date, lower left-hand corner now).....

Looks "weaselly" to me.  This also wasn't far from where I found Poor Ol' Slim dead on the road earlier in the summer.  So...weasels are a real possibility on-site.

There are also gillions of Eastern Cottontail clips (Sylvilagus floridanus), including babies, from this exact camera set.  They often move in and out of the shrubs where the weasel went.  I was desperately hoping for an awesome predation event on camera, but was not to be.

These clips were pretty cool, but the weasel only makes a brief appearance in each of them.

So, I was incredibly thrilled to see this video clip from July 31st.  Different camera on the same site.

I'm going with a Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata) on the ID for this critter.  The tail appears to be at least 1/3 or greater of the total body length (you might have to maximize the clip size to see it).  The length of the tail suggests M. frenata.  If correct, this would be a different species than Ol' Slim, which I think was the Short-tailed Weasel M. erminea.

Weasels are always tough for me to get pics or vids of.  It's only happened once or twice before (see a previous post).  Having never seen any evidence of them on-site after about two years (no tracks in the snow nor other camera pics), I had given up on them for this property.

I guess....if nothing really shows the importance of being patient and acquiring a long-term dataset when cam-trapping!


  1. Nice. I've never got a weasel on cam.

  2. I've been fortunate to get river otter, fisher, and mink on my cameras...but never one of the lil guys. THEY are the real holy grail to me!

  3. Great title.... is that where frenata comes from?

    1. Man...I wish it was that way!! The simalarity in the species name and the word frenetic is where I came up with the blog post title.

      But...alas....frenata means "bridled"....according to Long (2008; Wild Mammals of Wisconsin) this is due to the fact that in the southern parts of their range they occassionally have dark markings on the face that appear like a bridle.

  4. Terrific get TB. Weasels are one of the toughest species for just the reason your vids show - the little brats never stop moving.

  5. Way to go! My big goal for last winter was to get a short-tailed weasel on cam, and I failed miserably. I put cams near where I saw their tracks but I guess that they don't go the same place twice!

    Thanks for sharing your fun footage!