How to find mustelids...

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Andy Avram
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How to find mustelids...

Post by Andy Avram »

Another group of animals I do not see nearly enough are mustelids, especially mustela genus weasels. I have seen a pair of Least, two Long-tailed and Mink are pretty easy. Any tips on maximixing weasel viewing pleasure?

Andy

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justinm
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by justinm »

I've seen all of those a Martin, and a Fisher. I wish I could find them more regularly, so that I could get some cool pics. Thanks for putting this up, I'm curious to see where this goes.

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by Josh Holbrook »

Can't help you down to genus but with skunks I have my best luck flipping them under tin.

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Andy Avram
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by Andy Avram »

Josh Holbrook wrote:Can't help you down to genus but with skunks I have my best luck flipping them under tin.
!!!OLD TAXONOMY ALERT!!!

Get with the program Josh. Those skunks are in the family Mephitidae now, not Mustelidae. Or I will go by whatever taxonomy you wish if you show me Spotted Skunks.

Justin,
Yeah I have seen American Badger, River Otter and Tayra also. I'd love a Fisher or Martin.

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justinm
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by justinm »

I'd love to see some Wolverine pics and hear some stories.

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Curtis Hart
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by Curtis Hart »

I have not had a whole lot of luck with some of these. I'll list my experiences.

Long-tailed Weasel - I saw a den with 10 young and a mother once. One was accidentally treed by coon hounds, they treed a coon and the weasel treed nearby.

Least Weasel - I found one crossing my yard as a kid. I caught it and took pictures.

American Marten - I road cruised on on the way into Sequoia NP. I also saw 3 bobcats in that same half hour.

Black-footed Ferret - There is a ranch NW of Seligman AZ where it is pretty easy to spotlight them.

American Badger - Spotlight in Prairie Dog towns, I've road cruised a couple as well.

Tayra - Tikal, they are supposed to be common there.

Northern River Otter - Kayak in habitat, you'll see them.

Southern River Otter - I saw them a few times in Tortuguero CR

Giant River Otter - I saw them regularly in the Llanos of Venezuela.

Sea Otter - Very easy off California or Alaska.

American Mink - I see them regularly but I can't say how best to target them.

Hog Badger - I got lucky and saw one in Khao Yai.
justinm wrote:I'd love to see some Wolverine pics and hear some stories.
I have a cousin that can't swing a dead cat without it hitting a mustelid of some sort. He's had 5 wolverine sightings in the last 4 years and has pictures of 4 of them. I'll see if I can get him to post them here.

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Warren
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by Warren »

To me, it seems like otters are curious and confident and will check you out.
Mink are not as curious but they don't really give a f#%k, so if you are in their habitat, they will let you see them.
Skunks are pretty confident for obvious reasons, so it is a matter of learning their activity patterns.
Weasels are tricky, just a matter of luck. Always around but not seen much.
Marten and fisher I've seen a lot of by driving through boreal forest. They run across the road.

Curtis, how did you catch the weasel?

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Curtis Hart
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by Curtis Hart »

I put a 5 gallon bucket in front of it and scooted it in. I kept if for about a half hour and let it go. Here it is after it was released.


Image

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Curtis Hart
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by Curtis Hart »

Andy Avram wrote:Mink are pretty easy.
I see them regularly, but randomly. How do you find them.


Curtis

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by Josh Holbrook »

Andy Avram wrote:
Josh Holbrook wrote:Can't help you down to genus but with skunks I have my best luck flipping them under tin.
!!!OLD TAXONOMY ALERT!!!

Get with the program Josh. Those skunks are in the family Mephitidae now, not Mustelidae. Or I will go by whatever taxonomy you wish if you show me Spotted Skunks.

Justin,
Yeah I have seen American Badger, River Otter and Tayra also. I'd love a Fisher or Martin.

Really? Crazy.

And come on down anytime - they cleaned up the tin site they used to be at a little bit (I still flip them there, just less often) but a guy came down here a while back to look for them: we "just missed" (smelled) about a dozen of em'. They're thick in one area I frequent.

Curtis Hart wrote:
Andy Avram wrote:Mink are pretty easy.
I see them regularly, but randomly. How do you find them.


Curtis
Sach's Fifth Avenue. Coat section.

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Andy Avram
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by Andy Avram »

Curtis Hart wrote: I see them regularly, but randomly. How do you find them.
Curtis
I guess I can't typically guarantee a mink sighting, most times they are incidental findings. But, along Lake Erie at some parks they aren't too uncommon along the break walls. I don't typically go there, but a mid-morning or evening visit can be productive. There is also a beaver lodge at a local park by me that has mink running around fairly commonly.

Overall, I agree with Warren on his idea of a mink attitude. If they are around they typically can care less if you see them or not.

Josh, next time I go to Florida I will try to take you up on that offer!

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krismunk
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by krismunk »

I can't help you at all with the North American species (only seen one incidental mink in Florida as a kid) but perhaps some European experiences can help a little.

We have 8 species here in Denmark:

Otter I've never seen. They shouldn't be too hard but they're uncommon, don't occur in my part of the country and I've never specifically targeted them.

Pine marten I've found once, incidentally, located at night in the forest by its eyeshine. I refound it in the same area by the same method the following night. I addition I've found one DOR.

Beech marten I've seen twice, incidentally, road cruised at night.

Badger is the only species (other than perhaps mink) I've found I can efficiently target. Night time road cruising in areas where they are common works pretty well. As does simply walking their habitat at night. They are quite loud when they rustle about in small groups through the leaves on the forest floor, thus easy to find. Their presence in an area can be determined in advance by seeing them as roadkill, finding active burrows or dug out hornets nests. All of these three are of course just something I stumble upon by chance, but it happens occasionally.

... and on to the Mustela species. They're funny critters, curious, common, to some extent diurnally active, yet rarely seen - puzzling. We have four species in Denmark.

Mink (introduced and all too common pests), seen somewhat regularly by day near water.

Polecat I've seen twice by day and on a good handful of occasions by night. As with badger I also see them somewhat regularly DOR. Most sightings have been near water though not to the same degree as with mink. All have been incidental - at first. On one occasion I saw a group animals in the distance at dusk coming out of a hole at the root of a tree on a small slope at the edge of a fluvial plain. They were too far away for me to ID, so I went over to the burrow the next day to see if I could ID them by tracks in the loose soil. While there I knelt down and looked into the burrow and saw a polecat staring back at me from just inside the mouth of the burrow, no more than two meters from my face. On another occasion one approached me to within three meters as I was sitting quietly fishing in the dark. These episodes to me are typical of the inquisitive nature of mustelids as a whole. I used to live in a neighbourhood with plenty of foxes that I would often take evening walks to look at. A couple of polecats lived there as well. Whereas I would see plenty of foxes every night I would only see the polecats occasionally.

Stoat I've seen a couple of times, road cruised incidentally at night. Supposedly they are the most common carnivoran in Denmark and they should be found near my house where I 've looked for them quite a bit without success - guess they're somewhat tricky.

Weasel I've seen twice, both times by day and both times the animal has displayed curious though guarded interest in me. The first time peeping out of a mouse hole at my feet, the second time stopping to look every now and then while scurrying about busily in the bushes.


All in all, I guess you can conclude my sightings are mainly incidental, at daytime and night, by foot and car. Once found I have had some success refinding the animals though.

Finally, I've never tried this myself but I have heard of others having succes by looking for tracks in the snow and just staking out the areas that display regular activity. I guess that might require a little patience ;)

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jonathan
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by jonathan »

I was about to start the same thread. Other than my recent prolific otter sightings (posted on another thread), all I've seen is 1 badger, 1 mink, and 2 long-tailed weasels. The mink and weasels were all near cover on small streams. Other than that I have no idea why I saw them then.

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gbin
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by gbin »

Curtis Hart wrote:Tayra - Tikal, they are supposed to be common there.
I wouldn't say that they're uncommon, Curtis, but they appear to be anything but abundant. My wife and I were trying to work with them there for a brief period back in 1992 (we even trapped, radiocollared and tracked a tayra in Tikal as part of that work, one of the first ever done anywhere) for our Ph.D. research, but were compelled to switch to coatis because tayras were simply too hard to come by. Indeed, a while after that pilot study we went back and lived and worked in Tikal for some three straight years for our coati work, and over all that time we saw tayras only rarely. So yours was a very good sighting!

(My wife and I continue to search for a good field site for studying the species, by the way, if anyone knows/hears of a place where they're truly abundant.)

In fact, that's an awfully impressive list you've compiled! I've long been eager to see giant otter, in particular. (My wife and I initially tried to devise studies on them for our dissertations, but we couldn't get past the territoriality of other scientists already involved with the species. :? )

Gerry

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Curtis Hart
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by Curtis Hart »

gbin wrote:I wouldn't say that they're uncommon, Curtis, but they appear to be anything but abundant. My wife and I were trying to work with them there for a brief period back in 1992 (we even trapped, radiocollared and tracked a tayra in Tikal as part of that work, one of the first ever done anywhere) for our Ph.D. research, but were compelled to switch to coatis because tayras were simply too hard to come by. Indeed, a while after that pilot study we went back and lived and worked in Tikal for some three straight years for our coati work, and over all that time we saw tayras only rarely. So yours was a very good sighting!
I was at Tikal in late 2002 or early 2003. I missed them my first trip, but then met up with a girl that was not interested in wildlife, and had pictures of 2 different Tayras on a POS camera from Tikal, so I headed back. I found one easily while walking around in one day.

The Giant River Otters were pretty easy in the Llanos, I saw them on at least 5 or 6 different occasions. This was a around 2004/2005 roughly, my guide was Alan Highton.


Curtis

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gbin
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Re: How to find mustelids...

Post by gbin »

Curtis Hart wrote:I was at Tikal in late 2002 or early 2003. I missed them my first trip, but then met up with a girl that was not interested in wildlife, and had pictures of 2 different Tayras on a POS camera from Tikal, so I headed back. I found one easily while walking around in one day.
Lucky fellow (and lucky gal)! :thumb:

Gerry

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