Where's the weasel?
Updated: Feb 2
Can you spot the Long-tailed Weasel in this game camera photo from one of our Habitat Steward's properties?
Normally a rich red-brown colour in the summer, this weasel's summer coat has been shed for a pure white winter one. Other animals that change their summer coats for a winter white include snowshoe hares, short-tailed and least weasels, and Arctic foxes. If you can't find the sneaky little devil in this photo, scroll down to see where it's hiding in plain sight!
Though changing your coat colour to match the ground around you is a very clever and effective way to camouflage yourself from your prey AND your predators, this only works if you actually match the ground around you. All of the above mentioned animals do not consciously decide to shed their seasonal coat. It is a process that is triggered by the change in day length - shortening days trigger the development of the white coat, whereas lengthening days trigger a brown/grey coat. This has worked well for thousands of years, however with climate change is creating warmer, less snowy winters and this means that these animals are often left with their vividly white coat on a drab brown landscape. For animals like snowshoe hares, this means they are easily spotted by predators like coyotes and lynx. For predators like weasels, this lack of camouflage means they can no longer sneak up on their prey and may struggle to find food.
Can you see it? The red arrow is pointing to its pinkish ears, the yellow arrow to its body and the white arrow to the black tip of its tail.