Egyptian weasel

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Egyptian weasel
Mustela subpalmata at Zamalek by Hatem Moushir.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Mustela
M. subpalmata
Binomial name
Mustela subpalmata
Egyptian Weasel area.png
Egyptian weasel range

The Egyptian weasel (Mustela subpalmata) is a weasel species endemic to northern Egypt. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.[1]


The Egyptian weasel is so similar to the least weasel (M. nivalis) that only in 1992, it was suggested to be a separate species.[2] However, results of a phylogenetic study indicate that mitochondrial DNA supports the Egyptian weasel to be a subspecies of Mustela nivalis rather than a distinct species.[3]


Skull of an Egyptian weasel

The Egyptian weasel has short legs, a small head, and small ears. Its tail is long and thin. The weasel has a broad snout. The upper part of the body is brown and the lower part is cream-colored.[4]

Sizes for the Egyptian weasel are:[4] -Male head-body length: 36.1–43 cm -Female head-body length: 32.6–39 cm -Male tail length: 10.9-12.9 cm -Female tail length: 9.4–11 cm -Male weight: 60-130g -Female weight: 45-60g.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The Egyptian weasel occurs in northern Egypt from Alexandria eastward to Port Said and southward through the delta and as far south as Beni Suef, located 115 km (71 mi) south of Cairo. It lives in the same places as humans, including cities and villages and has been described as an obligate synanthrope.[1]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

The Egyptian weasel is omnivorous and includes a significant amount (~50%) of vegetables and fruit in its diet, as well as waste human food and animals including rodents, chicks of poultry, rabbits, fish and insects. Their varied and opportunistic diet reflects their opportunistic synanthropic lifestyle.[5] The males of the Egyptian weasel male are solitary and highly territorial, marking the territorial boundaries with urine and faeces. The female may establish a territory within a male's territory within which she will make a nest in a cavity, wall crevice or rock pile. She defends this territory from other females.[4]


During courtship the pair trill and chatter and copulation can be quite a loud affair. After copulating she may remain with the male or the pair may separate and seek other mates. The females gives birth in her nest to a litter of between four and nine young, up to three times a year, if food supply allows.[4][5]


At present, it is not considered threatened. Future potential threats are chemicals such as rodenticides, predation by domestic dogs and diseases.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d McDonald, R. & Hoffmann, M. (2016). "Mustela subpalmata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T41660A65993325.
  2. ^ van Zyll de Jong, C. G. (1992). "A morphometric analysis of cranial variation in Holarctic weasels (Mustela nivalis)". Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. 57: 77–93.
  3. ^ Rodrigues, M.; Bos, A.R.; Hoath, R.; Schembri, P.J.; Lymberakis, P.; Cento, M.; Ghawar, W.; Ozkurt, S.O.; Santos-Reis, M.; Merilä, J. & Fernandes, C. (2016). "Taxonomic status and origin of the Egyptian weasel (Mustela subpalmata) inferred from mitochondrial DNA". Genetica. 144 (2): 191–202. doi:10.1007/s10709-016-9889-y.
  4. ^ a b c d "Egyptian Weasel (Mustela Subpalmata)". Archived from the original on 2014-12-23. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
  5. ^ a b "Mustela subpalmata". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2016-11-14.

External links[edit]