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Indonesian Mountain Weasel (Mustela lutreolina)



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The Indonesian Mountain Weasel

The Indonesian Mountain Weasel (Mustela lutreolina) is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is endangered due to hunting, the fur trade, and because of its native habitat being destroyed. It is thought that the Indonesian Mountain Weasel and the Siberian Weasel were once the same species but that climate changes isolated the Indonesian weasel.

The Indonesian Mountain Weasel is found on the islands of Sumatra and Java in Indonesia. They live most often in mountainous tropical rainforest areas. Because it is so genetically close to the Siberian Weasel, it is assumed that their lifestyles and behaviors are much alike. The Siberian weasel makes its den in the hollows of trees, under rocks, and will often take over a rodentís burrow that has been deserted. It often will line its nest with leaves and feathers, sometimes even using its own fur. Weasels in general are nocturnal animals and will not move often during the day. They seem to be solitary animals, only keeping company when they are very young. There arenít any listed predators for the weasel, but they are extremely fierce and probably wouldnít be worth the effort for many major predators.

Indonesian Mountain Weasels can reach a full adult length of 11-12 inches (297-321 mm) with a tail that is 5-6 inches (136-170 mm) long. They usually weigh approximately 295-340 grams. They are covered with shiny reddish-brown fur. Weasels are very agile, are able to swim easily, and very swift. They have been known to make loud screeching sounds when they are threatened, and they have scent glands that emit a foul smell. They are very slender, and this really helps them when they are hunting as they are able to easily sneak into burrows to reach the rodents they crave.

Mountain Weasels are carnivorous, and, because they are so quick, they are often able to take down animals far larger than themselves. They are most apt to go after rodents, however. They also eat birds, eggs, and frogs. There is also evidence that they may collect and store food for the winter. There have been noted to be migrations of mass amounts of weasels when the food supply is scarce, but, when it is overabundant, there is evidence that they only consume the blood and brains of the animals they kill.

Mountain Weasels reach mature, reproductive age at around one year of age. It is not uncommon for many males to fight over the favors of one female, and some of these fights can be ruthless and severe. It seems that the peak mating season for mountain weasels during the end of winter and beginning of spring, and the young are usually born from April to June. The period of gestation is only about 30 days, and litters range from 2-12 young weasels. The babies are born without much fur and with their eyes closed, which take about a month to open fully. The babies are weaned after about two months and are ready to live on their own at that point. Usually, however, they will choose to stay with their brothers and sisters through the autumn. It is estimated that mountain weasels live about 7-10 years in the wild

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Bibliography:
Weasel. Encarta Encyclopedia, © 2000.
ADW: Mustela Altaica: Information. Accessed on August 16, 2004 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Mustela_altaica.html
Carnivora; Mustelidae; Mustela. Accessed on August 16, 2004 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/carnivora/carnivora.mustelidae.mustela.html


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