Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata)

Size: 

8-10″ long. 5-8 ounces 

Signs of their presence: 

Seeing the animal 

Sounds: Loud chirping sounds or low trilling sounds, like a whistle 

Scat: thin and long pellets. The pellets will look twisted at each end 

Odor: An odor similar to the skunk but not as strong 

Diet: 

Carnivores. Weasels will mainly eat small rodents and rabbits. They’ll also eat insects, worms, snakes and frogs. They are also known to raid bird nests and eat birds. 

Typical activity patterns: 

 Social style: Solitary excluding breeding season. 

Daily activity: Mainly nocturnal, however they are active during the day 

Hibernator? No 

Migrates? No 

Where found: 

In Massachusetts weasels can be found throughout the state, mainly in wooded or rocky areas along waterways.  

Habitat: Prefer rocky or wooded areas that are not dense, open woodland. They can be found in crop fields and small wooded areas. They typically den in hollow logs, rock piles, or abandon buildings such as barns.   

Territory and home range: Male weasel’s territory will overlap with female territories but never with other male territories. They will become aggressive and attack any male intruders that come into their home range. Some weasels territories can be up to 40 acres. 

Breeding habits: 

Pair bonding style: Polygamous. Males do not help raise the young 

Breeding Dates: July-August. Gestation takes around 7 months, due to delayed implantation.  

Litter Size: 6-9 young on average. Sometimes up to 12 young 

Birthing Period: March or early April 

Weaning Dates: around 36 days 

Amount of time young remain with parent beyond weaning date: another month and a half. The young leave when they are around two months old 

Common nuisance situations: 

Time of year: Any time of year. 

What are they doing? 

They get into poultry houses and kill the birds 

Killing pet rabbits or hamsters 

Legal status in Massachusetts: 

Protected. Weasels are a protected furbearing species that may be taken during the set trapping season.  

Best practices 

Exclude them from poultry houses: 

Close off any holes that are 1” or greater. Use ½” mesh cloth. Or wire mesh to cover the holes 

Secure the doors at night 

Bury the fence 6 inches into the ground to prevent the weasel from squeezing under it 

Use wire mesh fencing that weasels cannot squeeze through the holes 

Startle the weasel: 

Set up a motion activated sprinkler. Set it up where the weasel is gaining access to the vulnerable area such as a hole in the fence or entryway into a barn 

Remove Cover: 

Do not stack wood against the barn or house 

Mow often 

Remove low hanging branches on brush and shrubs 

Keep the weeds and grass around poultry houses and rabbit pens well trimmed 

Remove rock and brush piles from the yard 

Remove food sources: 

Properly dispose of livestock carcasses 

Secure garbage with tight fitting lid 

Exclude mice and other prey that weasels eat from your property. If there is not an abundant food sources weasels will move on. 

Keep Weasels from Denning in Structures or Under Decks: 

Close doors when not using 

Put wire mesh over holes to prevent entry 

Fence off areas under porches and decks 

Trapping: 

Weasels are curious animals and can be trapped relatively easily 

Trapping strategies: 

Live Capture: 

If a weasel is in your house using a small cage trap is best 

Set the trap near the wall or areas of cover 

Bait the trap with fresh meat  

Lethal: 

Rat traps, only use larger snap traps as mouse traps will not kill weasels 

Body-gripping traps 

Preferred killing methods: 

CO2 chamber 

Shooting, using a shotgun or a .22 caliber rifle 

Acceptable killing methods: 

Stunning and chest compression 

Control strategies that don’t work particularly well or aren’t legal in Massachusetts: 

Collect dog or cat hair and spread it around the area weasels frequent 

Sprinkle red pepper flakes around the perimeter of the area you are trying to keep the weasels out of. The flakes will irritate any soft tissue it comes into contact with 

Noisemakers may startle the weasel but won’t drive them off 

For information on pesticides follow the link, https://www.mass.gov/service-details/pesticide-regulations-in-massachusetts