Weasels Reprise

(This column was first published in the May 10, 1999 Buffalo News.)

    When I wrote about weasels recently, I invited readers to share their experiences. Here are some of their responses.

    Several spoke of tiny openings weasels could pass through.

    Dr. Herman Zaehringer's experience was at his country home in North Java: "Suddenly a weasel scampered from the back lawn toward us with a chipmunk in his mouth. He came within three feet of us and suddenly disappeared into a small mound of irregular rocks by the back door. In less than a minute he reappeared and headed to the back of the yard again. In another minute he returned with another chipmunk in his mouth and again entered the same part of the rock pile. After he left we tried in vain to find his entry hole. It must have been between two flat stones wedged at an angle."

    Anthony Corio walked into his Lockport kitchen where he "saw a 'white mouse' run across the floor. To tell you the truth it was more of a white blur. I peeked under the table and there it was -- a 6-7 inch weasel, pure white except for a small black spot on the tip of its nose, looking right at me. The little guy then ran into the foyer. I quickly shut the door between the kitchen and the foyer and stretched a towel at the bottom for good measure. I then opened the door to the outside and we attempted to chase it out. Instead it ran under the towel and door back into the kitchen. Somehow it squeezed its body (probably 2 to 2 1/2 inches round) under a door space of about 1/2 inch. We opened the door and it was gone."

    Jordan Narbe of Orchard Park called to tell of a weasel escaping from his kitchen through a "thumb-sized" hole in his screen.

    Canadian mammal researcher J.-F. Robitaille confirms this evidence. His captive weasels regularly make U-turns in 2 3/4 inch diameter tubes.

    There were other stories as well.

    Anne Stradtman of Elma found a weasel caught in netting stored in an open barrel: "The poor creature was frantic in its effort to escape and when I saw it was a weasel I realized we had to be careful. This encounter gave us a really close-up look and we were able to appreciate what beautiful animals they are. Also, we were very cautious because, trapped as it was, it was one fierce fighting machine. We wore heavy gloves and used long-handled brush clippers. Thirty minutes of very careful cutting of the netting freed the weasel and it quickly raced off to the safety of the woods."

    Finally, John Wardein of Allegany wrote delightfully about his experience east of Ogden, Utah 40 years ago: "I was a Trappist monk in those days and catching a breath of fresh air -- about 30 degrees below zero -- around dawn one wintry morning. There was 3-4 feet of fresh powder everywhere except on a small sidewalk. Bundled in my heavy white woolen choir robe, I must have been well camouflaged and coming toward me on the walk was an animal equally well camouflaged except for the tip of his tail. Not only did it continue approaching but it tried to take shelter under my ankle-length robe. My compassion for the poor beast was limited by the thought of it crawling up the leg of my long underwear. We monks were vegetarian but I feared my furry friend was not so I left it to its own devices."

    I thank these correspondents for their splendid stories. And now I invite readers to share similar experiences with coyotes. -- Gerry Rising