African Weasel

© Nigel J Dennis

Name

African weasel (Poecilogale albinucha)

Appearance

The African weasel is a slight creature with a total length of 300 mm and a weight of about 250-350 grams. They have long, lithe slender bodies with a tail measuring 175 mm in length. The African weasel is characterised by its black coat with two white stripes running along its body from head to tail. This makes it quite easy to spot the African weasel in the bushveld of South Africa.

African Weasel Diet

The African weasel is a carnivore and prefers to eat prey that lay close to the ground. Prey includes small rodents, small birds and sometimes insects found in South Africa. The African weasel grabs its prey from behind the neck while holding onto it with its forefeet and throwing it onto the side. This helps put the caught prey off balance. The African weasel will also pull its prey backwards while anchoring the body with its hind feet to help break its spine.

African Weasel Breeding

The African weasel produces one litter per year during the spring and summer seasons in South Africa. After a gestation period of 32 days, a litter of three altricial kits are born. After 35 days, the young African weasel develops their canine teeth and after 52 days, the young finally open their eyes. The African weasel baby is fully mature at 52 weeks but can start hunting down prey from as young as 13 weeks.

African Weasel Behaviour

African weasels lead mainly solitary lives. They do however, form small family groups of between two to four during mating season. You are sure to spot a small family of weasels out in the wild during the warm summer and spring months in South Africa.

Habitat

The African weasel prefers a habitat filled with grasslands and woodlands found in South Africa, where the rainfall exceeds 700 mm per year. Areas that have small rodent populations are also preferred. It is believed that African weasel numbers are declining in some areas where the natural habitat is being destroyed.

Where they are found

The African weasel can be found across Southern and Central Africa along the Eastern parts. In South Africa, they can be found along the Eastern-coastal regions from the Northern Province, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal.