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WikiProject Mammals / Mustelids  (Rated C-class, High-importance)
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Are all of the Mustelinae genera other than Gulo, Martes, and Eira normally described as "weasels," and not just Mustela? john k 15:16, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

there's a tricky European vs. N. American distinction here - in Europe it's really only the Least Weasel that's ever called a weasel. So keeping the more generic use on the narrow side is probably a sensible course to avoid confusion. seglea 22:58, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
Europeans don't call all those other kinds of weasels weasels? I understand that they have stoats and polecats and minks for the other European species of Mustela, but there are a whole ton of non-European animals which are only called weasels, and which Europeans must call weasels - at least, I've never heard that they call them anything else, or read a book where they are called anything else, or read of any alternative names for them at all. At any rate, it is not appropriate to compromise between a supposed European convention (weasel only means Mustela nivalis) and a North American convention (weasel means almost all of Mustelinae) by adopting a convention nobody uses (weasel means Mustela). What are Vormela, Lyncodon, and Poecilogale if they are not weasels? The fact that the word "weasel" is used to refer specifically to M. nivalis doesn't mean that Europeans never use it in a more generic sense. john k 23:34, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
It is not a "supposed European convention" that only M. nivalis is called a "weasel" tout court in Europe; it's a fact about European usage of English. The OED, which is authoritative on such matters, gives as the meanings for "weasel" (though I blush for their knowledge of taxonomic terms etc):
1. a. A carnivorous animal (Putorius nivalis), the smallest European species of the genus (of the order Mustelidæ) which includes the polecat, stoat, etc.... It is remarkable for its slender body, and for its ferocity and bloodthirstiness.
d. In some parts of England and Ireland confused with the STOAT, which is sometimes called ermine weasel or (when wearing its winter coat) white weasel.
2. Applied with qualifying words to various animals belonging to the family Mustelidæ, or having some marked resemblance to the weasel, as fisher w. (see FISHER1 2b); four-toed w. = SURICATE; Malacca w. = RASSE; Mexican w. = KINKAJOU; water-w. (see WATER n. 30).
(the rest of the entry makes entertaining reading but isn't to the present point).
As to what words Europeans use for other members of Mustelidae, in my experience, European scientists and naturalists invariably refer to them as "mustelids", following the usual convention for forming an English word from the family name, and there isn't a particular usage for members of Mustela in general - as is commonly the situation for genera. They certainly wouldn't be called "weasels", I guess because that's too strongly associated with M. nivalis (never called the Least Weasel in Europe). Obviously where there's a name for another species that includes "weasel" that would be used (see OED's (2) above), but that has not generated a generic use of the term.
You're obviously right in principle that going for a convention that no-one uses makes no sense - I thought the boundaries were fuzzy in American usage, in which case we could choose where we put them, but I'll happily defer to Americans on what their usual usage of "weasel" is. It might be worth running a Google (or Scholar) search to get an idea of what the commonest denotation is. seglea 18:21, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

I'm not saying that people call the family as a whole weasels. But what do Europeans call Mustela frenata? I would imagine they call it a "Long-tailed Weasel." The fact that Europeans use "Weasel" to rever to M. nivalis doesn't mean that they only use Weasel to refer to M. nivalis. There are a bunch of animals which are not M. nivalis and which have "weasel" in their common name. The idea of these things being unable to coexist is ridiculous. We call the Domestic Pig "the Pig," but that doesn't mean that we don't refer to other Suids as "pigs." Felis silvestris (or F. s. catus) is called the "Cat," but that doesn't mean that other Felids aren't generally referred to as "cats." I notice that you ignore OED definition 2: " 2. Applied with qualifying words to various animals belonging to the family Mustelidæ, or having some marked resemblance to the weasel, " There is nothing whatsoever to indicate that this meaning is used only in North America. I will repeat, then, that saying that "Weasel" applies only to Mustela is ridiculous. It seems to me that "Weasel" can be thought to refer only to M. nivalis, or to refer to the entire Mustelinae. But the idea that it is limited to Mustela is bizarre. john k 18:45, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

You're misunderstanding. Of course the Long-tailed weasel is called the Long-tailed weasel, anywhere (that's OED's meaning 2, which I didn't ignore - I cited it on exactly this point). But unlike the situation with cats, where any member of Felidae is casually referred to as a cat, it's not true that in European usage that any member of Mustela (let alone any member of Mustelidae) is casually referred to as a weasel. Of course "weasel" for M. nivalis and "weasel" for Mustelidae generally could co-exist, as the cat example shows; the fact is that they don't. It's more like the situation for canids, where no-one would refer to a fox, even generically, as a dog. You simply can't call a stoat a weasel, cf. the ancient riddle:
"How do you tell a stoat from a weasel?"
"A weasel is weasily recognised; a stoat is stoatally different"

seglea 15:32, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

Oh, okay, I got you. I would actually agree that all of mustelidae is not normally called "weasels." Certainly otters and badgers (and skunks, when they were included in mustelidae) are never referred to as weasels. In the Mustelinae, also, there are various individual species which are not referred to as weasels - notably the Wolverine, the Tayra, the various members of Martes, various animals which are called ferrets and polecats (not necessarily closely related to one another), the Stoat/Ermine (Ermine seems to be more common in North America...), the two species of mink. But here, at least, if one had to put a general term to the Mustelinae, it would be "weasels," I think. At any rate, we seem to be agreed that saying that Weasel=Mustela is wrong. How do you think this should be solved? I note that, at the moment, we have no page on the Mustelinae as a whole, and that the non-European genera of Mustelinae also have no articles. There seems to be significant room for improvement here. john k 15:53, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

agreed. Some groups tend to get like this - a bit of a job lot, with a mixture of good articles and very thin or wacky ones, and key collective articles missing. Have a look at sciuridae and squirrel if you want to see a nasty mess, which I've given up on for now. Where we have good coverage on a taxon, it's usually because we have one enthusiast who resolutely monitors every page within it and gets rid of any rubbish that grows up.
There isn't a clear policy on subfamily pages (or other subtaxa, supertaxa, etc). There's at least a tacit agreement among those who edit natural history pages that if we have a page on any lower taxon, we should also make pages for all the higher taxa at the conventional levels. But whether or not subtaxa etc get done is left to the judgement of those who know about the particular group. I think it's nearly always worth doing if the subfamily was previously given family status (as within the Nymphelidae for example), not least because other sources will still be using the old family names.
If Weasel=Mustela is wrong in N America, then the best thing is to make Weasel a disambig which simply says that it can mean the Least Weasel, or can be used as a general term for Mustelinae, and let Mustela, Mustelinae and Mustelidae pages just have their systematic names.
on stoat/ermine, what I remember from childhood natural history is that the animal should only be called an ermine when it has its white winter coat on. But I'm not sure how strongly that has ever been maintained - another round with OED would be needed to sort that out. Certainly ermine as a fur is always white, with the black tail tips, being the heraldic badge of members of the UK House of Lords, among other national embarrassments. But I thought the Stoat was the American Short-tailed weasel (that's what our page on it says, anyway).
seglea 03:31, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

I wasn't aware that there was an American-short-tailed Weasel. As far as I was aware, in America we called it the "Ermine." and that was it...but I'm fairly drunk at the moment, so I may very well be wrong. john k 05:54, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

I thought that only "weasels" are strictly known as "weasels". Sure, on a broader meaning it can mean ferrets, polecats, stoats, skunks, zorillas, badgers, otters, wolverines, martens, fishers, grisons, ratels, stink badgers, ferret badgers, mink, etc, but strictly only weasels...I think. 04:16, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Interesting. Why not just move this page to the taxon name and then turn "Weasel" into a disambiguation page or or something? This is a good article about the Mustelinae, and it explains very well that many of it's members are only rarely considered collectively all "weasels". This article is about weasels and their close weaselish relatives, the weasel tribe. I could cite presendent; this is what was done in other cases like this one. Chrisrus (talk) 21:32, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

I think that does have merit, although I think you (and most of the previous contributors to this thread) mean Mustela, not Mustelinae, which is a larger group and already has an article.
The difficulty is always going to be the North American and British difference in usage. To an American, "weasel" and "Mustela" seem to be synonomous, while to British eyes "weasel" just means the smaller species which don't happen to have another name – in fact I think "ferret" would be a more meaningful catch-all name for the genus in British English. The upshot is that we have an article with a title which is ambiguous or even misleading. The title Mustela would be unambiguous, and equally meaningful to users of both dialects. The variations in vernacular usage could then be dealt with within the article as now.
I've been ignoring Australians and New Zealanders here, as they only have a couple of introduced European species, but it might be interesting to know what their usage is too. Richard New Forest (talk) 23:01, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. The first thing I'm going to do is have a look at Weasel (disambiguation). I invite you and anyone else reading these words to join me there. Chrisrus (talk) 23:07, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I think the disambiguation page is good enough for now, but please look it over. Does that seem correct to you? Chrisrus (talk) 23:41, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Clarification needed re article subject[edit]

Related to the above discussion - It seems some editors have assumed the article is about Mustela nivalis only, and others that is is about the genus; eg the length is given as max. 217mm which is actually shorter than the max size of nivalis according to its own article "Least weasel", and certainly shorter than the max length of other mustelae, which are listed further down as being included in the article topic. Suggest this article be moved/retitled "Mustela", with appropriate redirects, and anything referring to nivalis only be moved to the "Least weasel" article if not already there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Newburyjohn (talkcontribs) 10:05, 26 April 2016 (UTC)

This article's neutrality is compromised by "weasel words".[edit]

Ha-ha! Vitriol 12:46, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Clear the article from profanity, someone abused the page. (VEC7OR 2006 05 10)

Okay, if your drunk don't say anything, kids go on here, thank you very much, this isn't some chat room. Well any way, I've put some information myself on the weasel on here. I don't get how people can debate on the weasel, sounds like my kind of thing! Okay, well, the period is almost over, I got to go to my next class, I'll continue with this later! -C-dawg

Are you joking? WEASEL WORDS! That's a good one! 04:16, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I removed {{weasel}} from the article as I'm not seeing why it should be here. It appears to me as a joke. If you believe the template should remain, please explain. --Midnightcomm 02:56, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
I fixed it 01:50, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

This seems to be a recurring joke for this article. --Pompous stranger (talk) 10:28, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Adorable!  :D Let it stay. (talk) 06:58, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

Pack Behavior[edit]

Anyone got reliable references for pack behavior in weasels? (added by user:

All species I know about are essentially solitary. seglea 23:03, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

They're strictly solitary. 04:17, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

members of the weasel family[edit]

I believe that there are at least seven members of the weasel family.

weasel wolverine mongoose mink marmot ferret fisher

WRONG! The mongoose is part of the mongoose family, while the, marmot is not even a carnivore -- it's rodent. Here are the animals in the weasel family that I can think of:

  • badger
  • weasel
  • stoat
  • wolverine
  • fisher
  • marten
  • grison
  • skunk
  • zorilla
  • sable
  • polecat
  • ferret
  • otter
  • mink

Dora Nichov 13:49, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

I almost frogot one:

  • tayra

Dora Nichov 03:26, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

I've reverted a pack of changes that stated that the use of "weasel" for "Least Weasel" vs the genus is an everyday vs scientifc usage matter. See higher up this page for a long discussion that seems to make it fairly clear that it is in fact an American/European difference. However, this is a matter that really wants settling by producing some quotations, or some counts from Google or something. seglea 19:33, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Hypnotic dance[edit]

Is it true weasels do a hypnotic dance in front of their prey? I'd like a source on this. 22:00, 19 November 2006 (UTC) John S.

Very controversal. Some say they do, others say no. The no-sayers say that it's just a parasite in their brain or something like that. Depends on which way think of it. Dora Nichov 00:27, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

this article needs to be cleaned up with the random all caps bit

Weird Al song?[edit]

Can I add Weasel Stomping Day as a (quite controversial) reference in popular culture? Or are we avoiding that? The Lilac Pilgrim 10:54, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

If it's really about stomping weasels, it sounds to me like a valid pop culture entry, if a citation is available. Agyle 04:07, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
This stuff is great, and citations are obviously available if you look but, in my opinion, stuff about Weasel in popular culture belongs in a separate article, maybe. Without references, it looks kinda wrong, though interesting. Thing is, it doesnt fit with the rest of the article, like Mustelids, Mustela africana, Mustela altaica ...etc.; though an attempt has been made. Weasel Stomping Day already has an article page, so does Al Yankovic. Just adding stuff to WP is great, but adding it to the right article, or even a new article, is even better. Newbyguesses - Talk 04:54, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Another popular reference ?[edit]

I just landed on this page after reading the english version of the last tome of Stephen King "Dark Tower" serie (itself called "The Dark Tower"). In it there is a "Taheen" character (they looks like human/animal hybrid) that is call "The Weasel" and has a weasel head. Now I know what it means. Though maybe it could be added to this page ?

What's wrong with this?[edit]

H3nryH3nry 20:20, 1 April 2007 (UTC)What's wrong with this?

  • A very old joke is to say 'What's the difference between a stoat and a weasel? A weasel's weasily recognized but a stoat is stoatally different!' Most biology teachers hear this about five times a year.

It's true after all.

New Wikiproject[edit]

I wanted to make a wikiproject about ferrets and weasels but it became to small a range so i have made a bigger wikiprojects including all animals in the Musteloidea super family which include both ferrets and weasels and much similar animals. Support would be appreceated.

you can find it here:

i also made a little template for the project,

This article is within the scope of the Weasel WikiProject, a collaborative effort to improve Wikipedia's coverage of articles relating to Ferrets, Weasels, and other Weasel like friends. If you would like to participate, you can visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks.

I hope you like it.

This wikiproject is for the superfamily of Musteloidea which currently and surprisingly does not have an article yet. This superfamily includes ferrets and weasels and all of our other furry little weasel like friends. Please put your name on it so this article could have it's very own wikiproject outside of wikiproject animals.

Teh Ferret 19:51, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Don't we have more info on weasels? Kolanak 12:32, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Suggested addition[edit]

What about saying a word about Pop Goes the Weasel somewhere in this article? 13:52, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Yes, this seems quite weasonable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:53, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

How can we get rid of the words 'dominic is an uber weasel'??? I tried to edit the article but these words do not show up in the edit scren. Thanks (talk) 17:36, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

recommend removal of pop-culture section[edit]

The pop-culture section of this article is far too large, perhaps even larger then the factual information about the weasel. Most other animal articles either limit the pop-culture to a small % of the total article, or eliminate it all together. I propose this article do the same. Trivial pop-culture should not outweigh factual information. (talk) 15:37, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Maybe the popular culture stuff could be moved to a dedicated article? Anyway, I removed the "expand" tag since it seems unnecessary. Spalding (talk) 14:17, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Religions Revering Weasels[edit]

I removed this line until a reference can be found. That's a bit too strange to remain uncited. Reb42 (talk) 23:49, 10 May 2009 (UTC)


Table aint working.. I dont know whats wrong, just passed by =) (talk) 19:32, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Someone fixed it. (talk) 19:35, 18 May 2009 (UTC)


is the picture vandalism? i've found a better picture.

WEASEL.JPG —Preceding unsigned comment added by Solar Flute (talkcontribs) 01:32, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

List of fictional weasels[edit]

I think a while ago there was an article called 'list of fictional weasels' but apparently it was deleted for some reason. Can anyone make another one? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:45, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

It seems to have been incorporated here: List of fictional animals (other)#Weasels. I've made a redirect there from a new List of fictional weasels. Richard New Forest (talk) 15:19, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

I have suggested that Weasel war dance be merged here (assuming that article is legit and can have some refereces added), presumably as a new section, as it is too narrow in scope to be a stand alone article. Ecphora (talk) 12:12, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

I think it might be more appropriate for it to be merged with Ferret, given it's actually more of an observed behavior of pet domestic ferrets. --AzureCitizen (talk) 18:35, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
It should probably be merged with neither, since both display it, and both duplicating the content and linking one article to another's section seem like bad form to me. Oreo Priest talk 09:52, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Weasel war dance relevant to ferrets as well. --Joshua Issac (talk) 12:26, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
    • "Weasel war dance" when in relation to ferrets refers to behaviour that usually indicates excitement and/or an invitation to play. It has nothing to do with killing prey or dancing over its dead body as is indicated in the article on "weasels". This should be corrected. (talk) 15:18, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose merging here and mildly oppose merging at all. As noted, the behavior is also characteristic of other species (most notably the domestic ferret).


The page is locked, but there's some obvious vandalism on it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cpell (talkcontribs) 12:33, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Figurative use of "weasel"[edit]

Right now, the page only describes the literal creature itself. I think a lot of people, myself included, may have come to this page wondering why the word "weasel" is used to describe a sneaky person or what a sneaky person does, such as "weasel words." A quick search does not explain this in any etymology sources I see, except for the following:

The verb "to deprive (a word or phrase) of its meaning" is first attested 1900, so used because the weasel sucks out the contents of eggs, leaving the shell intact; the sense of "extricate oneself (from a difficult place) like a weasel" is first recorded 1925; that of "to evade and equivocate" is from 1956. A John Wesilheued ("John Weaselhead") turns up on the Lincolnshire Assize Rolls for 1384, but the name seems not to have endured, for some reason.
weasel. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. (accessed: February 16, 2011).

Perhaps actual or purported characteristics of weasels could be described to explain why the word "weasel" is used in this way. And please, don't use weasel words to explain it. Midtempo-abg (talk) 18:21, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

There is already an article Weasel word, which covers that subject. This article is about the animals, not the word "weasel", and in fact in British English most of these animals are not called weasels. We mustn't forget that Wikipedia is not a dictionary). I'm not sure what the figurative meaning has to do with this article (I think anyway the egg thing probably only applies to the Least Weasel). A "see also" might be helpful, or a hatnote though there is already one for Weasel (disambiguation). A section on actual or purported characteristics could go in the least weasel article. Richard New Forest (talk) 22:07, 16 February 2011 (UTC)


After searching the OED and several online Old English dictionaries (, I have found no references to the alleged word "weatsop". However, I have found two forms of an ancestral word to "weasel" that match well with the modern form: "weosule" and "wesle".

I suspect that "weatsop" is a modern misspelling, as "weat" is not an Old English word, and "sop" does not exist ("sopa" and "sopp" exist, but (following the comcast site) mean "sup, sip, draught" and "offula, sop", respectively). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:48, 17 June 2012 (UTC)


Is there any good reason why the word "polecat" in the Terminology section links to the Wiktionary page for that word, rather than to the Wikipedia page?Czrisher (talk) 21:13, 7 October 2013 (UTC)


A nate of weasels seems to be a pack of weasels, judging from context. How come I couldn't find it in the Oxford English Dictionary? Different spelling? Sprocedato (talk) 07:27, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

The Map showing the range of the Mustela[edit]

Well. According to the map Mustela's range does not comprise Anatolia, Indian sub-continent etc. This cannot be true and is in conflict with the map in the entry on Mustela nivalis (the least weasel), and with its own text in the Mustela entry. Can the map be corrected or replaced? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:21, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

Weasels as pets?[edit] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Benvhoff (talkcontribs) 01:45, 1 January 2015 (UTC)

The Scorpion and the Frog or The Weasel and the Woodpecker?[edit]

Unbelievable picture and story:

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Weasel/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

If weasels grow up to 35 cm long, does this include the tail? A few sentences later it says the tail can be 33cm long, so there is evidently a discrepency.

Last edited at 00:31, 1 February 2009 (UTC). Substituted at 10:21, 30 April 2016 (UTC)