Weasel ID

Today, I had an amazing observation of a family group of one adult weasel with three young at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury, Massachusetts. I watched them play at close range for over thirty minutes! Unfortunately, my camera is under repairs – otherwise I would have gotten some great shots. However, I was able to take this embarrassingly bad photo with my cell phone camera (please check out my other photos at www.tremarctos.com to see that this isn’t my usual standard…):WeaselSilhoutteT

Here is a photo without the weasel, to show it’s not just a branch:


Is it possible to confirm the identification, despite the quality of the photo? I believe they were Long-tailed Weasels.


  • Leslie Sokolow

    Can you give a size estimate?

    • geomalia

      Maybe 50% longer than a chipmunk? It’s hard to judge, but I can go back and measure the branch where I took the photo if it would help. The young were 70% the length of the adult, and seemed to have proportionately shorter tails.

  • geomalia

    Is the color of the front feet diagnostic in New England? I’ve found conflicting information. They were brown.

    • jvnmammals

      First off, congratulations on such a cool sighting. As for foot color, it is SUPPOSED to be diagnostic but I also have found conflicting info so I hope someone more experienced chimes in. I wonder if you have been able to eliminate marten for sure. That would be my first guess based on the arboreal nature of the sighting. However the tail doesnt seem to be full enough for marten. So with that all said, that tail looks too long to be a short-tailed weasel. And the brown front feet should also rule out ST WSL.

      • geomalia

        They were definitely weasels. I was surprised by how arboreal they were – all of them were running up and down trees. However, I suppose they have to be to catch squirrels and chipmunks. The adult unsuccessfully chased a chipmunk up a tree.

        I’ve found photos of Long-tailed Weasel from the west having light-colored feet, but no photos of Short-tailed Weasel with brown feet. It would be great to get confirmation about this.

  • vdinets

    Both LTW and STW can and do climb trees. The tail on the photo is definitely too long for STW. Feet color can be variable even within the same litter, look at this STW photo from UK: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/23/Suffolk-stoats.jpg/275px-Suffolk-stoats.jpg

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