The perfect predator

If you have been fighting field mice (voles) in your fields, garden, or haystacks, take heart. Although those rotten little buggars have wreaked havoc on us for the past few years, with their rotten little holes and all the damage they do to a hay field or haystack, their days are numbered.

I’m not talking about some new pesticide or tillage tool, I’m talking big guns…real big guns. The weasels are here. Hooray!

One day while cutting hay I saw a strange creature run out from under the windrow. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it definitely wasn’t a mouse or gopher. It scampered away before I got a good look. I mentioned it to my husband, who suggested it might be a weasel. 

But neither of us, nor anybody I had ever talked to, had ever seen a weasel in western Nebraska before. Maybe we just weren’t talking to the right people, but we sure hadn’t seen any.

A few days later on another field I saw another one. This time it scampered right in front of me, and I got a good look. Small, light brown, long, skinny…a weasel. 

Since weasels have never been a part of our daily life, I googled them, and was surprised at what I found out. In the old cartoons, weasels are the sneaky little chicken thieves of the animal world. In real life, they are the psychotic serial killers of the rodent world.

They can kill prey up to 10 times bigger than themselves and they don’t always eat the whole thing. Often, they just eat the brains.

Also, they don’t dig their own holes to live in. They go in, kill the burrowing rodent that lives there, and move in. When it’s time to have babies, they line the holes with grass, leaves and the skins of their prey. 

Of course, they’re not bulletproof. Hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes and cats can make a meal of them if they can catch them. But they are extremely quick, amazingly limber and can go through an opening the size of a quarter.

They are on the lowest risk list for being an endangered species. This is partly because they mate year-round and have 2-4 litters a year. Although they are blind, deaf and naked at birth, they can hunt at only eight-weeks old. As one website said, they are pretty much the “perfect predator.” I’m just glad they’re so little. They only weigh an ounce and grow from 4-10 inches long.

If you have chickens, though, you might not be so happy about the little guys. You might want to fortify your chicken coop or set a live trap (spring traps don’t seem to work). Either way, be proactive because, if a weasel gets in the chicken coop, it can kill them all in one night.

But anyway, if you have seen something a little different sneaking around your fields or haystacks, look a little closer. It might be a weasel cleaning out your mouse problem. But look quick. They’re faster than greased lightning.


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