Food Habits of Ermine, Mustela erminea, in a Forested Landscape

Mark A. Edwards, Graham J. Forbes


Most research pertaining to the diet of North American weasels has been conducted in agricultural areas and may not be representative of diets in forested regions. Ermine carcasses (N = 155) collected from trappers during a two-week harvest (16-30 November 1996) in forested New Brunswick were analyzed for food habits. The contents of 81 stomachs and 98 gastrointestinal tracts (N = 179) were considered as separate eating events and used in the calculation of the percent frequency of occurrence. Results suggest that soricids (28.0%), arvicolines (24.6%), and cricetines (17.3%) comprised two-thirds of their autumn diet. At a species or genus level, the Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) (17.3%) and shrews (Sorex spp.) (28.0%) were shown to have the highest percent occurrence. Squirrels, including the Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and the Eastern Chipmunk (Tamius striatus), comprised 11.2% of the Ermine’s diet; a value higher than has previously been reported.


Ermine; Mustela erminea; Long-Tailed Weasel; Mustela frenata; food habits; diet analysis; forest landscape

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