Mustela erminea

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  • Ermine | The National Geographical Society c1918 Photo: Peter G. Trimming by v8.6m

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Basic Information

Other names

Short Tailed Weasel






Ermines are generally between 6 and 13 inches in length.


up to 7 years


Ermine (Mustela erminea) facts, habitat, diet, range, weasel pictures and more to help you learn to identify the small carnivore.




Ermines breed in the late spring to early summer. Females produce one litter per year. Males reach sexual maturity many months after females.


Northern North America

Number of Offspring

3-15 Kits

What does the Ermine look like?

Ermines or Short-tailed Weasels are lanky carnivores. They have long bodies, short legs, rounded ears, brilliant black eyes, long whiskers and long tails that are more than a third of their total body length. They have seasonal colorations. In the winter they are nearly entirely white, with the exception of their bright black eyes and black tipped tails. In the summer their upper bodies are a rusty brown to chocolate brown with cream white undersides and black tipped tails. Both sexes look similar, but males are nearly twice as large.

Ermine Habitat

Open Forests

Ermine Facts

Ermine or Short-tailed Weasels are curious and highly adaptable predators. They are known in take in their surroundings by standing on their hind legs and looking around. They may travel more than 5 miles a night looking for prey. They will look in every hole in search of voles, mice and young rabbits. Their numbers in a given territory are a direct reflection of prey numbers. Their fur is a highly prized item, especially their silky white winter fur. So much so, that Canada sent King George VI 50,000 Ermine pelts for his 1937 coronation.

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