Published in Late September, 2001
Weasel image courtesy of "Weasels.com"
Weasels are a small and furry mammal of the family Mustelidae, characterized by sharp
teeth and a vicious disposition. Their great appetites lead them to kill and eat not
only vermin such as mice, but also to raid chicken houses and wreak mass slaughter
therein. Their evil tempers have brought them into conflict with creatures
as large as bears and eagles.
One would think it easy to control weasels; a heavy tread or a swift swing of a tennis racket ought to be sufficient. However, as mentioned a moment ago, they are small-- and they are also exceedingly limber, and fast.
Weasels, like the mice whose size they share (but unlike them in all other regards)... weasels can fit through holes of astonishing narrowness and hide in tiny crannies. While they themselves are the size of pebbles, mountains are their friends-- they can hide down in the crevices between boulders too large for even a bear to budge. Thus weasels often strike and bloody the ankles of the unwary, then retreat into their holes where retribution cannot reach them.
At least, that is, retribution of the Louisville Slugger kind.
To deal with weasels, one must deal with the factor that gives them their advantage-- their small size. It is necessary to think in terms of smallness-- take small-scale measures, use small tools, make a small amount of noise and leave a small amount of scent. A large man stomping about in a field with a baseball bat will have little success in killing weasels. A small, patient child sitting quietly by a place where weasels are likely to come, armed with a slingshot or BB gun, will have much better success.
Keep in mind that while they can hide, weasels, like their larger mammal relatives, still require certain things to survive. They require food-- in the case of weasels, fresh meat-- in large quantities (relative to the size of the weasel), and they require water to drink. Ordinary weasel prey is mobile, and it is difficult to mount an ambush over weasel prey as a result. However, weasels are always intrigued by the scent of fresh blood and its promise of an easy meal, and all but the most learned and disciplined of weasels will come to investigate its source. Such curious weasels can then be dealt with by means of BB-gun-armed snipers, rat traps, and so forth.
Water may be an easier factor to use, as water does not ordinarily move about randomly, its locations are easier to determine and they remain stable. The locations of water can also be controlled-- certain numbers of standing pools and puddles can be filled in, which will force the weasels to go to the remainder. With their probable future location thus better determined, ambushes and traps can be set near these water sources with greater chance of success. The only disadvantage to the water strategy is in areas where dew is frequent; in these cases weasels can drink dew in almost any location and their whereabouts will be much harder to determine as a result.
Certain scents infuriate weasels, causing them to abandon all caution (and cover) and leap to the attack. While this of course results in an angry and fast-moving weasel, it also results in a weasel whose location is known and less-protected. If the source of the weasel's fury also happens to be a trap which kills it, so much the better.
When setting traps, particularly unattended ones, the weasel hunter needs to be careful. For example, in the case of traps near water, there is a high possibility of catching innocent creatures instead, such as chipmunks, mice, and even songbirds, as these creatures all require water as well. Other types of bait, such as blood or scent, will be less likely to draw other types of animals to the trap.
Perhaps one of the better methods of pursuing weasels is to enlist the aid of other small animals to go after them. Terriers were originally bred to kill small vermin, and may be of aid against the weasel. Another time-tested animal hunting aide is the ferret. Most of us know them as endearing, busy, mischievous pets-- but through many historical eras they have been trained and used for hunting small prey down holes. Even a well-fed ferret retains the urge to hunt. If a ferret is taught to associate bringing a dead weasel to its handler with the receipt of a treat, it will be all too happy to go forth into the weeds and boulders and, yes, "ferret out" all the weasels it can find. Nor will the ferret try to eat the weasel instead. Weasels secrete musk-- which makes them about as appetizing as skunk cutlets.
This concludes these few thoughts about the control of weasels. While they should be kept in mind, by no means should they be considered the sum total of all weasel-hunting knowledge. Instead, use these ideas as a starting point in your war against weasels.
Slay the weasel or lose the nest!
Thanks for the picture to The Mammal Society
(Note: picture no longer on this page)
This article is intended for metaphorical use only, and makes no claims as to complete accuracy regarding actual members of the actual weasel family.
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