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a family of small or medium-sized predatory mammals. The fur is thick and fluffy, with a fine, soft undercoat. These animals generally have an elongated and flexible body and a bushy tail. The claws are not retractile, and in many species the digits are webbed. Special anal glands release a fetid secretion. Mustelids are distributed throughout the world except for Australia, the antarctic, Madagascar, Iceland, and some small islands. There are five subfamilies, with 28 or 30 genera. Sixteen species, making up eight genera, are found in the USSR.

Short-tailed, or snow, weasels (Mustela nivalis), polecats, and martens—all of the subfamily Mustelinae—are active predators. Feeding primarily on mammals and birds, they have molars with sharp cutting ridges. These species are terrestrial, and some are good tree-climbers. Badgers of the subfamily Melinae have digits with strong claws adapted for digging burrows. Feeding on animal and vegetable food, they have molars with broad, flat crowns that serve for grinding food. The common otter and the sea otter, which are both of the subfamily Lutrinae, are aquatic mammals, with well-developed swimming webs. These otters feed on fish, mollusks, and other aquatic animals.

Almost all mustelids are commercially valued for their fur (especially sable and sea otter).


Ognev, S. I. Zveri SSSR i prilezhashchikh stran. (Zveri Vostochnoi Evropy i severnoi Azii), vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.
Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2, part 1. Edited by V. G. Geptner and N. P. Naumov. Moscow, 1967.
References in periodicals archive ?
Resource partitioning among British and Irish mustelids.
Two mustelid species can coexist when rodent populations are high.
For assemblages of mustelids (in one instance including a herpestid), there is strong evidence suggesting that the upper canine tooth is a weapon used with great speed and accuracy to kill normal prey and that the diameter of this tooth may adapt each species to a particular array of prey sizes (Dayan et al.
Another food source for all four of the mustelids are bird eggs, which were severely affected by the use of pesticides (Carson 1962).
In laboratory studies on wild mammals, perception of increased predation risk in red-backed voles (Clethrionomys rutilus) by exposure to mustelid odor has been found to depress embryo growth (Ylonen et al.
due to any of the mustelids [ferrets, weasels and stoats].
2001), erinaceids (Morris and Tutt, 1996), mustelids (Tortato and Althoff, 2007), cervids (de Oliveira, 2009), soricids (Guevara et al.
Small mustelids frequently inhabit the ancient stone graves, and the sites' bone records may to some extent reflect their diet.
Mustelids, including various species of the genera Melogale, Meles, and Mellivora of the weasel family Mustelidae, can carry RABV (4-6).
1996; Fortelius and Hokkanen, 2001) but especially to the disappearance of many small carnivores such as mustelids (Fortelius et al.
Furthermore, we analysed the following three topics to consider effects of predators at differing scales on grouse breeding demographic variables: 1) influence of broad-scale predator control on grouse demography and raptor abundance; 2) influence of aggregated abundance of controlled predators and of raptors on grouse demography; 3) influence of the abundance of fox, crow and small mustelids separately.