Long-tailed Weasel, Point Reyes National Seashore

A long-tailed weasel hunts gophers.

Long-tailed Weasel, Point Reyes National Seashore

A long-tailed weasel looks for its next meal on the Tomales Peninsula.  Long-tailed weasels have a high metabolism and eat up to 40% of their body weight in food every day.  They are nocturnal.  Their diet consists mainly of rodents which they pursue into and through their burrows.  In the northern portion of their range they molt to white in winter, but the tip of the tail remains black.

The Park Service also lists the short-tailed weasel as an inhabitant of Point Reyes. They are about 1/2 the size of a long-tail, have shorter tails in relation to their body length, and have white bellies.  They can also molt to white with black tail tip.  It is the short-tail weasel that is also known as ermine.

A long-tailed weasel emerges from a gopher hole.

Long-tailed Weasel, Point Reyes National Seashore

Here is another look at our energetic hunter as it emerges from a rodent hole.   These animals do not stand still for long.


About Jim Coda

I am a nature photographer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I specialize in photos of birds, mammals, and landscapes.
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19 Responses to Long-tailed Weasel, Point Reyes National Seashore

  1. Jim, I’ve been entranced by your stunning photography! Been viewing rather than making reservations for upcoming visit to Pt. Reyes! It’s a favorite place we try to visit at least once a year. (Moss Landing otters demand equal time. 🙂 we’ve never seen weasels (or Bobcat for that matter) and I miss observing them! We had them in San Diego County. Where might we be likely to catch some glimpses of these brilliant hunters? I’m most saddened and concerned to read about Johne’s Disease among our beautiful elk— read about it in Feb. With calving up due to rains, and hopes for a restoration of herd losses from the drought, this is disheartening. What can be done? Blacktail deer also share the cattle pastures… My first visit to PRNS in 2010 I took photos of elk, deer and cows all dreamily grazing among lush spring flowers against the vivid blue bay. I had no idea this idyllic scene was a recipe for disaster.

    • Jim Coda says:

      HI Sarah. I’m sorry to have missed your comment wh4n it came in. I haven’t been as active on my blog lately. Plus, I’ve been in Patagonia for much of this month. Anyway, I’m afraid I don’t have any tips on where to spot weasels. They can be seen anywhere, but not often. As for bobcats, I’d concentrate on the Pierce Point Road. If you drive slowly and scan both sides of the road you may see one. Best early and late in the day. As for what is going on out at the Seashore politically and elk-wise, you should put your name on the list to be notified as to any further activities the park has planned for moving forward with its ranching plan which includes proposals to get rid of the elk in the ranching areas. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Jean Henderson says:

    We saw one at tomales point yesterday and have been searching around on the internet to confirm. after we decided that indeed it was a weasel, i googled “weasel identification pt reyes” and your post here popped up! yours are fantastic photos and so helpful because that is exactly what we saw! a weasel popping its head up out of a hole! thanks, jean and matt

  3. Susan K says:

    Thank you for your post–I found it upon looking up what I thought was an ermine while hiking in the same area of Point Reyes. I have hiked the trail for years never knowing these existed so far south in the US. The ermine we saw also had a white spot between its eyes! Perhaps a relative? It positioned its body in the same way as your photos–as if it was just as curious about us as we were about it. Thanks again and happy trails…

  4. steve money says:

    Jim, saw one of these suckers this morning at my place in rural arroyo grande. Had only heard they were around until this morning, probably around 7-7:15AM. He didn’t see me and he hopped around for about half a minute then ducked down a hole and i didn’t see him again. So cool, and very surprised!

  5. Wes says:

    Saw one today crossing Marshall-Petaluma Road on the way to Marshall. It was crossing the road about 1/4 mile from the top of the hill before it drops down into Marshall/Hwy 1 just before 10:00am. We live in such a cool place!

  6. aj says:

    I saw one of these just outside my office today 6/30/11 here in San Clemente, CA. in broad daylight. He was the cutest thing and i didn’t know what he was at first so i started looking up farrets then i thought well maybe he is a wheasel and sure enough the pics above looked just like my furry little friend! 🙂

  7. Pat Ulrich says:

    This is so cool! It’s so much fun to get to see these guys, and looks like you had a terrific encounter.

    • Jim Coda says:

      Thanks Pat. It was great. I remember you had one on your blog a while back. Let’s hope we each get to see one again in the not too distant future.

  8. Alan says:

    Incredible encounter Jim and awesome shots to prove it!

  9. John Wall says:

    Fantastic shots, Jim. I’d love to know how you find these guys!

    • Jim Coda says:

      Thanks John. How? One word – luck.

      • Natalie says:

        I saw one yesterday in Ramona, California (near San Diego) My brother had to help me identify what it was with my description – this is exactly what I saw! He was running around in the daylight though and you stated they are nocturnal. I will try to get a picture of him next time I go down there. He was in a pasture & living under a junk pile where the horse I am adopting is being kept. Just thought I’d share! It was exciting to see an animal I couldn’t identify. Thought it was a ferret at first, or something that bred with a ferret – LOL!

      • Jim Coda says:

        Congrats on seeing one. They’re pretty rare.

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