The Siberian weasel is a medium-sized mammal native to Asia. These animals have long, stretched out bodies with relatively short legs. Their winter fur is very dense, soft and fluffy, with guard hairs reaching 3-4 cm in length. The underfur is dense and loose fitting. Siberian weasels are monotone in color, being bright reddish-ocherous or straw-red, though orange or peach tones are sometimes noticeable on the skin. A dark, coffee-brown mask is present on the face. Their tails are more brightly colored than the back and are fluffier than those of other members of the genus. The lips and chin are white or slightly ochreous. The front of the muzzle is darker than the remaining parts of the head.
The range of Siberian weasels includes northern Myanmar, Laos, North Korea, Pakistan, Nepal, India, (Himalayas), Bhutan, Russia (from the Kirov Province, Tataria, and the western Urals through Siberia and the Russian Far East), Taiwan and northern Thailand. These animals live in deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests. They are also found in open areas including grassland, shrubland, along river valleys, and in the mountains.
Siberian weasels are nocturnal creatures. They are solitary and maintain territories, however, at times when food is scarce, they can leave their home range and move up to 8 km in a single night. Siberian weasels are active hunters, readily chasing prey through snow, logs, water and people's houses. They typically eat about 100-120 g of food daily and cache excess food. These creatures are not fussy about their shelters. They may nest inside fallen logs, empty stumps, brushwood piles, and exposed tree roots. They also use and enlarge the dens of other animals. The length of their burrows range from 0.6-4.2 meters and are 0.2-1.3 meters deep. The nesting chamber, which is located in the middle or end of the passage, is lined with bird feathers and rodent wool. In addition to a permanent burrow, adults have up to five temporary shelters which may be separated from each other by several kilometers. Siberian weasels are extremely aggressive when caught threatened, emitting piercing shrieks and letting loose a pungent secretion which reportedly takes a month to wash away.
Siberian weasels are carnivorous animals that hunt mainly on rodents. They feed on voles, mice, pikas, chipmunks, muskrats, Red squirrels and jerboas. They also take fish, small birds, reptiles and amphibians. Plant foods include pine nuts and some fruits. During the winter, Siberian weasels may scavenge extensively on the kills of wolves and yellow-throated martens.
Siberian weasels are polygynous and males may fight in order to get access to females. The breeding season depends on location. In western Siberia, they breed from early February to late March. In Primorye - in early March to late April. The gestation period lasts 38-41 days and litters consist of 4-10 kits. They are born blind and sparsely furred with white wool. Kits develop light yellow wool after a few days and open their eyes after a month. Mothers nurse their young during 2 months and the kits stop growing and become independent by late August. Young weasels reach reproductive maturity when they are 2 years old.
There are no major threats known to Siberian weasel. However, in some areas, they are heavy hunting for their fur.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Siberian weasel total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
Due to their diet habits, Siberian weasels help control populations of rodents and other small mammals in the ecosystem they live in.