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.


  • Jon Hall

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


  • vladimir dinets

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

  • Coke Smith

    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.

  • Coke Smith

    By the way – great shot!

  • patrickmurtha

    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.

  • Coke Smith

    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.

  • Shaun

    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.

  • Ian

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

  • Justin Mills

    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!

  • Richie

    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.

  • Craig Rittel

    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

  • patrickmurtha

    Great follow-up comments, everyone!

  • Paul

    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.

  • Michael Javick

    Seen in the Dongducheon area outside of Camp Casey also !

  • Ryan demosthenous

    I just saw the same animal in pohang crossing the road… Very

  • Judy B

    I just say one by the river, near Camp Humphreys. Must be the tone of the year. Say a small weird looking deer and several Red face pheasants. Wish I had my camera with me !!

  • emorymckee

    One of these crossed the bike path in front of me this afternoon near the junction of the Jungnang Cheon and the Han River, in Seoul. I’ve seen deer and hogs while cycling in Korea, a fair number of snakes and an occasional racoon dog, but this is the first weasel I’ve seen in the wild. It was really small, much smaller than I imagined for their ability to kill chickens, rabbits, and other larger animals.

  • Sandra L Dodd

    An animal ran by behind the actors in a Korean drama. When I asked people to help identify it, this is one of the pages that was sent. 🙂

    What was really cool was that it was running, and clearly visible, and unintentional.

    I’ll try to leave a link to where I put the video, if this forum will allow a link, but I’ll try in another comment.

  • Sandra L Dodd

    The video will start a couple of seconds before. When two people are coming up the hill, it runs right to left, down on the street.

  • Toni Gallagher

    Just saw one on a walk through Guro backstreets running along a low fence line. Too quick for me to get a photo though. In day time too.

  • Thomas Campbell

    Live in jongok,korea spotted one in my chicken house.

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