It’s officially cold, people. I’ll be under this blanket for the next five months.

The Mountain Weasel (Mustela Altaica) has a fairly wide distribution in the high-altitude regions of Asia, but the highest-concentrated population is located in Ladakh. Wider distribution of Mountain Weasels includes the Himalayas, China, Siberia, Kazakhstan and Korea. Mountain Weasels are also referred to as pale weasels, Altai weasels, and solongoi.

Mountain Weasels can grow up to 11 inches (28 cm) in body length, with tails of up to 6 inches (15 cm). They weigh in at around 12 ounces (340 grams) and females are generally slightly smaller than males. Mountain Weasels are light brown to gray brown in color, depending on the season. They usually have pale bellies and markings on their faces.

The diet of Mountain Weasels consists primarily of small rodents like pika and voles, as well as young squirrels and muskrats. They will also take small birds, eggs, lizards, insects, fish and some fruit. They are nocturnal and do most of their hunting at night, and only rarely during the day. They make loud, angry vocalizations when threatened and can secrete foul-smelling musk from anal glands as a means of defense or territory marking.

Mating season of the Mountain Weasel usually takes place in the early spring, and females can delay implantation of fertilized embryos to time the births of their young for when food sources are abundant. The kits start being born around May or even later in the year. The active gestation period is approximately 40 days, after which the females give birth to litters of one to eight offspring. Mountain Weasels have a polygynous mating system, similar to other weasels, with males competing with each other for the mating rights for groups of females. At all other times of the year, however, Mountain Weasels do not tolerate each other’s company.

Though the overall distribution of Mountain Weasels is wide, loss of habitat and human encroachment has caused a decline in their population, and are considered to be threatened or endangered in different parts of their range. However, they are generally seen as beneficial by humans who make their living through agriculture, as they are excellent at controlling pests that have negative impacts on crops. There is some trade in Mountain Weasel pelts, but not enough to pose a more significant threat to the species than habitat destruction.

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Source for all images used in this post.