The Weasel (Mustela vulgaris), Fig. 7, a species of carnivorous mammals, belonging to the family Mustelidae, is characterized by an elongated body, about 10 in. long in the male and 8 or 9 in the female; head, long; legs, short; feet, each five toes; muzzle, rounded; body, bright brown on the upper parts, the under parts white; and tail tinted uniformly with the body. It is a highly courageous animal, and attacks mice, rats, and voles, hares and rabbits - the five worst enemies of the forester, farmer, and gardener. On the other hand, the weasel is very fond of young partridges and pheasants, also chickens, and even pigeons, hence those interested in game and poultry-rearing regard it as only deserving of extermination. Albeit, the weasel destroys vast numbers of rodents or gnawing animals, and in this respect confers more benefit than damage on the farmer.

Fig. 7,   The Weasel.

Fig. 7, - The Weasel.

The male weasel is so small that it can pass along mole runs easily, not perhaps so much in quest of this animal as for the grass mice or voles frequently harboured in forsaken mole-tunnels; we have caught weasels in traps set for moles, while the female weasel is so wonderfully slim as to follow field mice underground. In hedgerows mice and even rats find no abiding-place where the weasel exists, and in cornstacks, often at a distance from the homestead, there is no tunnelling of them by mice and rats when weasels guard the environs; while in case of rats and mice in possession of a wheatrick, a weasel's appearance on the scene implies a speedy clearance. In grassy places where voles, or so-called field mice, are fostered the weasel is earnest in its breeding season, bringing mice for the young at the rate of four per hour in one instance of observance, while the rodents passed out from the grassy places and invaded the adjacent cultivated ground, the weasels being such persistent mouse-hunters. On moorlands and hill pastures there is no greater benefactor to the grazier than the weasel, and to the forester its services are invaluable; while to the gardener and even the farmer in woodland districts, with a reservation in respect of incursions into poultry yards, the little animal is extremely useful, for "neither mouse nor rat nor mole can carry on their projects with impunity while the weasel stands sentinel" (Waterton).