They’re often mistaken for otters. Now Florida needs help finding the ‘elusive critters’

·1 min read
Keven Law/Miami Herald file

Iguanas, check. Snakes, check. Alligators, check, check.

Florida has ’em all.

But weasels?

Yep, those too.

According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Sunshine State is home to long-tailed weasels, who are “rare and secretive, making them difficult to study.”

In a Tuesday Facebook post, the agency cites concerning statistics and asks for the public’s help in reporting any sightings of these “elusive critters.”

Biologists say that pre-2000, there were nearly 200 records of weasels in Florida; since that time, only seven.

Weasels are often mistaken for the much more common river otter, the FWC notes.

So, how do you know you’re looking at one?

These slim, long animals, in the mustelid family, have short legs; small, round ears; and musky scent glands under the tail.

The carnivorous mammals are mostly brown with a yellow neck, throat and underside, and white markings on the face.

What makes them so hard to pin down? They’re fast moving and can squeeze or slink into tight spaces and are “excellent at staying out of sight;” hence the expression, to “weasel out of something.”

Long-tailed weasels are typically found in a variety of habitats, but are usually near water.

You can share your sightings to the FWC’s online reporting system to help wildlife researchers. You’re asked to please include a photo if you’re able. They’re also “notoriously shy.”

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