African Weasel

African Weasel


Name

African Weasel [Poecilogale albinucha]

Appearance

Head and body length is 300mm, and the tail measures 175mm. The African Weasel weighs about 250-350 gr. They have long slender bodies with short legs and distinct longitudinal black and white stripes along the back. The top of the head and tail is white.

Diet

The African Weasel preys almost exclusively on small rodents and young birds on the ground, whereas insects are taken on occasion. Prey is bitten behind the neck while they control it by clasping it with the forefeet and by rolling on its side in order to throw the prey animal off balance. At the same time the prey is pulled backwards while the hind feet are anchored against the lower body of the prey, in order to break the spine.

Breeding

The African Weasel normally gives birth to one litter per season, each consisting of one to three altricial young. Reproduction occurs during spring and summer. Females give birth after a gestation period of 32 days. Young develop canine teeth after 35 days and their eyes open after 52 days. Offspring are grown at 20 weeks, but can kill prey as of 13 weeks.

Behaviour

African Weasels live in small family groups of two to four during mating season or when raising litters, but generally has solitary a lifestyle.

Habitat

Suitable habitat includes moist grasslands or woodlands with a rainfall exceeding 700 mm per annum, and also areas where small rodent populations abound. Generally very rare, and due to habitat degradation numbers are believed to be declining in at least some areas.

Where they are found

The African Weasel is distributed through the eastern parts of Southern Africa, and further north towards Central Africa and occurs from the south-eastern coastal regions northwards via KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Northern Province.



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