Taiga Animals

Class: Mammalia: Mammals Diet: Small mammals
Order: Carnivora: Carnivores 
Size: body: 24 - 29 cm (9 1/2 - 11 1/2 in), tail: 8 - 12 cm (3 - 4 3/4 in)
Family: Mustelidae: Mustelids Conservation Status: Non-threatened
Scientific Name: Mustela erminea Habitat: forest, taiga, tundra
Range: Europe, Asia, Northern U.S.A., Greenland; introduced in New Zealand

Size of ErmineThe ermine is a highly skilled predator. It kills by delivering a powerful and accurate bite to the back of the prey's neck. Rodents and rabbits are the ermine's main diet, but it will also kill and eat other mammals -- including some bigger than itself -- as well as birds, eggs, fish and insects. At the beginning of winter, in the northern part of its range, the ermine loses its dark fur and grows a pure white coat, only the black tail tip remaining. This white winter pelt is prized by the fur trade. Ermines produce a litter of 3 to 7 young in April or May. The male assists in caring for and feeding the young, which are helpless at birth. Their eyes do not open until they are about 3 weeks old, but at 7 weeks young males are already larger than their mother. There are 15 species of Mustela, including the minks now farmed for their dense fur.

Range of Ermine
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