Mustelids

67 species

Mustelids are carnivorous mammals that include weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, minks, and wolverines, among others. They are typically small animals with elongated bodies, short legs, short, round ears, and thick fur. Most mustelids are solitary, nocturnal animals, and are active year-round. They are predominantly carnivorous, although some eat vegetable matter at times. The fisher, tayra, and martens are partially arboreal, while badgers are fossorial. A number of mustelids have aquatic lifestyles, ranging from semiaquatic minks and river otters to the fully aquatic sea otter, which is one of the few nonprimate mammals known to use tools while foraging. It uses "anvil" stones to crack open the shellfish that form a significant part of its diet. It is a "keystone species", keeping its prey populations in balance so some do not outcompete the others and destroy the kelp in which they live. Several mustelids, including the mink, the sable (a type of marten), and the stoat (ermine), boast exquisite and valuable furs, so have been hunted since prehistoric times. One species, the Sea mink of New England and Canada, was even driven to extinction by fur trappers. Today, some mustelids are threatened for other reasons. Sea otters are vulnerable to oil spills and the indirect effects of overfishing, the Black-footed ferret, a relative of the European polecat, suffers from the loss of American prairie, and wolverine populations are slowly declining because of habitat destruction and persecution. The rare European mink is one of the most endangered mustelid species. One mustelid, the ferret, has been domesticated and is a fairly common pet.
Mustelids are carnivorous mammals that include weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, minks, and wolverines, among others. They are typically small animals with elongated bodies, short legs, short, round ears, and thick fur. Most mustelids are solitary, nocturnal animals, and are active year-round. They are predominantly carnivorous, although some eat vegetable matter at times. The fisher, tayra, and martens are partially arboreal, while badgers are fossorial. A number of mustelids have aquatic lifestyles, ranging from semiaquatic minks and river otters to the fully aquatic sea otter, which is one of the few nonprimate mammals known to use tools while foraging. It uses "anvil" stones to crack open the shellfish that form a significant part of its diet. It is a "keystone species", keeping its prey populations in balance so some do not outcompete the others and destroy the kelp in which they live. Several mustelids, including the mink, the sable (a type of marten), and the stoat (ermine), boast exquisite and valuable furs, so have been hunted since prehistoric times. One species, the Sea mink of New England and Canada, was even driven to extinction by fur trappers. Today, some mustelids are threatened for other reasons. Sea otters are vulnerable to oil spills and the indirect effects of overfishing, the Black-footed ferret, a relative of the European polecat, suffers from the loss of American prairie, and wolverine populations are slowly declining because of habitat destruction and persecution. The rare European mink is one of the most endangered mustelid species. One mustelid, the ferret, has been domesticated and is a fairly common pet.