Mustelidae – Mustelids
Weasels, badgers, otters, wolverines, and their allies.
Mustelids are one of the oldest carnivores showing tremendous diversification over millions of years—consequently, the largest Carnivora family. Most are ground dwellings, some are swimmers (otters and minks), and some are adept climbers and diggers. They generally have elongated bodies with relatively tiny legs and flaunt the thickest fur coat.
Mustelids are fierce meat-eating predators (wolverine is a strong reminder of this character), while some are kept as pets, too (otters). Around 40% of Mustelid species are considered highly threatened because of habitat destruction and hunting, while other species are so abundant that they’re considered pests.
The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is an endangered species that nearly went extinct but is recovering through reintroduction and captive breeding.
Genera in this family
Ictonychinae – Striped polecats
These mustelids have a snake-like movement pattern when cautious
Equipped with 34 razor-sharp teeth that are excellent for shearing flesh
A skunk mimic, besides a similar appearance, also releases smelly fluid from its anal gland when they feel threatened
Delayed implantation enables them to time the birth for favorable conditions, such as when foods are abundant
Mustelinae – Weasels
Guloninae – Martens
The pelts of these species were used as currency in the middle ages
Widespread in tropical and subtropical forests in Central and South America
Wolverine was once observed defeating a polar bear!
Despite their name, they rarely eat fish; instead, their primary prey is porcupines and snowshoe hares
Lutrinae – Otters
Exclusively found in the Americas, these creatures are a sight to behold!
Found in Asia and Europe, these freshwater otters are endangered and nearing extinction
Inhabit water bodies in sub-Saharan Africa’s savannahs
They can sleep in the sea by lying on their backs and floating on the surface of the water
Don’t be fooled by their harmless appearances; they can hunt caiman, piranhas, and anacondas in the wild!