Iberianature Forum

Spanish mammals (lynx, bear, wolves, cabras, moufflon and the little furry creatures too). => Mammals of Iberia => Topic started by: Big Vern on August 08, 2008, 18:17 PM

Title: Stoats or weasels fighting?
Post by: Big Vern on August 08, 2008, 18:17 PM
I recently came across these 2 mammals (stoats?) by the side of a track, seemingly fighting to the death. One of them had already lost a leg in the fierce battle. Can anyone confirm they are stoats and offer a reason why they might be fighting in this way (not mating season.)
Title: Re: weasels fighting
Post by: nick on August 08, 2008, 20:06 PM
Spectacular start to the forum Big Vern. What an incredible image.

In addition to the reddish as opposed to brownish colour, these are weasels as they have no black tip on the tail.

Also, stoats are confined to Northern Spain, where do you live more or less?

I'm going to guess (from my Purroy y Varela - Mamiferos de España)  by these weasels white feet and lack of dark marks on jowls that you live somewhere in the South.

Could you give us all some more details of the sighting? We'd love to hear more.
Title: Re: weasels fighting
Post by: Clive on August 09, 2008, 01:12 AM
What an amazing image..... Welcome to the forum Big Vern...

There have been sightings of stoats in Andalucia despite what the books say but these guys are definitely weasels as nick says....

How long did this go on for? Any more pictures'

I guess this is two males fighting? The missing foot will be a problem......

Question... Why are southern European weasels larger than northern counterparts?
Title: Re: weasels fighting
Post by: lisa on August 09, 2008, 07:39 AM
Hi Big Vern, again great photo. They must have been very engrossed in their scrap. I've been reading about Weasels in Spain, Comadreja, (http://www.sierradebaza.org/Fichas_fauna/04_04_comadreja/comadreja.htm) where it says that the mating season can be from January - October.
My first thought on Clive's question was an abundance of prey but I've discounted that one and am tending towards the weather theory now, hotter in the south so greater body mass to release more heat. Not a clue really  :)
Title: Re: weasels fighting
Post by: Maria on August 09, 2008, 09:44 AM
Fab photos although rather sad that these two really are going for each other.

Is it possible the one guy lost his foot in a snare or something similar before these two met because in the picture it dosnt look like a fresh wound?
Title: Re: weasels fighting
Post by: nick on August 09, 2008, 10:01 AM
Hadn't seen the foot!

For the record:

stoat : armiño : Mustela erminea

weasel : comadreja : Mustela nivalis

Or try this quiz I did a couple years ago
Title: Re: Stoats or weasels fighting?
Post by: Big Vern on August 09, 2008, 10:45 AM
Thanks for putting me right on the identification - I'm sure you already know than you can be 'weasily' confused over these 2 mammals! They are not so stoatally different are they?

Yes, I live in southern Spain - in the north of the Costa Blanca - and the photo was taken in a quiet valley below the Coll de Rates close to the CV715. We were on a car treasure hunt which had taken us off the main road and having watched them for several minutes and taken some photos, a number of our fellow competitors caught us up. One of those in the crowd that formed at a respectable distance decided watching these two animals harming each other was cruel and made enough noise to cause them to break off, otherwise I don't know how long the fight would have continued or what the outcome would have been.

Here is another view of the tussle -
Title: Re: Stoats or weasels fighting?
Post by: nick on August 09, 2008, 10:52 AM
What time of the day was it?
Title: Re: Stoats or weasels fighting?
Post by: Big Vern on August 09, 2008, 10:56 AM
About 13:00 22nd July. A hot day, about 28 - 30C from memory.
Title: Re: Stoats or weasels fighting?
Post by: nick on August 09, 2008, 12:37 PM
On weasel aggressiveness:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustela_nivalis (also has photo of fighting)

Least Weasels are highly solitary, and even mating does not occur without a fight. Females can breed several times in a year when food is plentiful. Perhaps because of their small size, Least Weasels have an even greater reputation for ferocity than the other weasels, and there are many references to them in the popular cultures of different countries. Traditional Inuit lore held the Least Weasel in great respect because of its pugnacious nature, and the capture of one was regarded as an omen of good luck. In classical and medieval European mythology, it is sometimes said that the only thing which can kill a basilisk is a weasel (by which is meant Mustela nivalis), though it would be killed in the conflict as well. The earliest record of this claim is in Pliny's Naturalis Historia, book 8, par. 33. [1] It was repeated by Isidore of Seville in his Etymologiae, and subsequently by many medieval bestiarists.
Title: Re: Stoats or weasels fighting?
Post by: Simon on August 12, 2008, 08:56 AM
Hi Big Vern,

Welcome to the asylum, Forum  >:D!

I'll salute your excellent homespun humour even if no-one else herabouts does! :dancing:

And the photos were great too

Title: Re: Stoats or weasels fighting?
Post by: Technopat on August 12, 2008, 18:34 PM
Greetings and welcome to iberianatureforum Big Vern,

'Mazing pic. & great start to your membership :clapping:
Simon's already saluted your punning so I won't lest it goes to yer 'ead, but looking forward to future postings...

Nice placing, Nick!

Car treasure hunt? Number of Ferraris you can nick in an evening?