Interesting Mammal Sighting in Korea

I am an enthusiastic mammal-watcher, which is harder to be than a bird-watcher because mammals are more visually elusive. Tonight as I was walking through Yongji Park in Changwon, on the south coast of South Korea, I saw a mustelid mammal that might have been a feral ferret. But the coloration also matched the Siberian Weasel, which is indigenous to Korea although probably not common.

Now, a public park in Changwon would seem to be an unusual place to see this species, but the city is ringed by mountains which would be a more natural habitat for it — if it gets this far south; it is apparently more often encountered in North Korea. Does anyone have any ideas about this? Is it possible that I did see a Siberian Weasel? Or are feral ferrets sometimes sighted in Korean parks?

UPDATE: A respondent at Animal Rescue Korea said that she has seen similar mustelids on Jeju Island, which is off the south coast of South Korea.  So if the Siberian Weasel occurs there, it would probably occur in the Changwon area as well. The coloration of the animal that I saw did not remind me of any domestic ferret I have ever seen. The only other wild weasels found in South Korea are the Least Weasel and the Mountain Weasel, which are smaller and do not look like the animal I saw.

14 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Jon Hall
    Jon Hall 8 years ago

    I understand that Siberian Weasels are quite common in South Korea. Even from Seoul and Busan. I saw one I think near Daejon

    Jon

  2. vladimir dinets 8 years ago

    Very typical Siberian weasel. They occur all the way down to Indochina, and are very common in many types of habitat.

  3. Coke Smith 8 years ago

    I live in very urban Shanghai and have seen Siberian weasels on a number of occassions. They seem to do well in urban settings. My students and friends often talk about them raiding their pets’ food dishes and scurrying across the lawn…I see sign of them very often as well.

  4. Coke Smith 8 years ago

    By the way – great shot!

  5. Profile photo of patrickmurtha Author
    patrickmurtha 8 years ago

    Not my photo, I poached it off the Web. 🙂

    Thanks for all the follow-up information, everyone. I think I can confirm my sighting as a Siberian Weasel. I’m pretty excited about it — there is not much mammal action around here. I’ve only seen Red Squirrels a couple of times locally.

    Another respondent at Animal Rescue Korea has seen this weasel in a park in Seoul a few times.

  6. Coke Smith 8 years ago

    I know what you mean about the lack of mammal activity in urban Asia… I was thrilled with the first sighting of the weasel myself….. In a year in China, I am still below 30 mammal species – something I could have done in a week in the states.

  7. Shaun 7 years ago

    I just saw one today, here on Jeju Island. This is the second one, or could be the same, however the first sighting was 5 years ago, so maybe not. I assumed the first was an abandon pet. Anyway, I saw it last night as I was leaving the university and just a couple minutes ago, this afternoon. I was wondering what it was and came upon your article. So yes, there are some in Jeju.

  8. Ian 6 years ago

    I spotted one yesterday on the grounds of our apartment complex in Hannam-dong, Seoul. Two very curious cats were stalking him.

  9. Justin Mills 6 years ago

    I was riding my bike on a narrow concrete road between rice fields near Osan Air Base and came across what I believe to be a Siberian Weasel. It was definitely a bright orange color, not like the Least Weasel. I scared it, and it ran down the center of the road not knowing where to hide. I sped up and chased it until he spotted a patch of weeds on the side of the road and jumped into them. It was pretty cool!

  10. Richie 6 years ago

    I live in Incheon and I’ve had five sightings as of tonight, when I saw one dash across the road right in front of my apartment. As soon as I got in I wanted to check out some more information on them and I found this site. It’s a pretty heavily industrialized city here but there are plenty of mice about so I bet that’s what they’re munching on.

  11. Craig Rittel 4 years ago

    My name is Craig Rittel, I am retired military and I currently live in Uijeongbu. I live down town near Ganeung Subway Station, and last night which was 05/01/2015 I have seen a Siberian Wessel for the second time. The first time I did not see the animal clearly, but last night I saw it very clearly and there is no doubt what the animal was. While it seems some what surprising that these animals are living in a urban environment, I suppose it is no different than how Possums and Racoons have done the same thing in the USA. I hope this information helps.

    Very Respectfully
    Craig Rittel

  12. Profile photo of patrickmurtha Author
    patrickmurtha 4 years ago

    Great follow-up comments, everyone!

  13. Paul 8 months ago

    I saw one running (bounding really) behind my apartment in Pyeongteak last night. Which led me to google what it was. Looked like a ferret or weasle with fur the color of a red fox. About 2ish feet long nose to tale tips.

  14. Michael Javick 1 month ago

    Seen in the Dongducheon area outside of Camp Casey also !

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