INFORMATION AND DISTRIBUTION MAPS FOR CUMBRIAN SPECIES VISIT: www.lakeland
is exceptionally fortunate to have the "full monty" of the
smaller mustelids, or weasel family, amongst its fauna. The illustrations
from the top downwards are:
that are relevant to the Cumbrian populations of each species are
Surveys by the Vincent Wildlife Trust show there is strong
evidence that the Pine Marten survives in tiny
numbers in the central Lakes; otherwise it probably
occurs in Britain only in the Central and Western Highlands
Pine Martins have been associated with fells and screes
in the Lake District, rather than woodland.Sightings and
scats (droppings) have suggested that it is present in
the Ennerdale, Ambleside, Keswick and Greystoke areas,
and possibly north of Alston on the Cumbria-Northumbria
border. More recently it has been recorded near Brampton,
not far from Talkin Tarn and at the head of Morecambe
agile creature readily climbs trees
(though not necessarily Pines), leaping from branch
to branch and taking prey as large as squirrels, although
small rodents form the bulk of the diet.
Pine Marten is ill-equipped for survival as a threatened
species, as it does not breed until the fourth
year and produces only two or three
off-spring each year. After mating, delayed implantation
of the egg means that young are not born until April of
the following year.
Polecat was extinct in Cumbria for over 100 years before
being re-introduced from Welsh stock,
beginning in the late 1970's. It is currently expanding
its range, with most records coming from the length of the
Eden valley, around Ravenglass and the Furness peninsula
species has a preference for low-lying
marshy areas around farms; in winter they frequent
and darker than the Stoat with a characteristic "masked"
face - a creamy white head with black round the eyes. After
a mating in early spring, kittens are born in May or early
Polecat is a poor climber and is reputed to store paralysed
- but alive - prey (such as frogs) in its burrows. It can
effectively keep rabbit populations in check (studies show
they form around 85% of prey), but can also be an indiscriminate
killer of poultry.
smallest mustelid often surprises people by its slender
size, being no more than 25-30 cm
long including its short tail. It occurs throughout the
of its diet comprises mice and voles, but it can be aggressive
enough to take young rabbits.
give birth to upto six young about 3 to 4 weeks after mating
and can have two litters a
year if enough food is available.
bold predator has little fear and does not readily run for
cover, so they can be watched in daylight. Because of their
small size, weasels often stand on their hind legs for a
sight of a family party of 6 weasels moving nose
to tail in a line is not one that I shall easily
much larger than a weasel the black-tipped
tail of the Stoat is diagnostic.
are widespread in Cumbria, with a bias of records from the
north of the county. It is found at altitudes up to 600
metres (2000 feet) where white coated
ermines have been reported in winter.
to a dozen kits are born around April after delayed implantation
from the previous year's mating, so there is only one
generation per year.
female will mate with an older
male when only a few days old,
while she is still blind and hairless.
can form up to two-thirds of a stoats diet.
sight and sound of a kill is also never to be forgotten.
The rabbit becomes paralysed with
fear just before capture and emits a loud