WEASEL. Fitchet, Fulimart, or Whitort (Mustela vulgaris). This species inhabits the temperate and northern parts of Europe, Asia, Russia and Sweden, particularly in West Bothnia, they become white in winter like the ermine, but are easily distinguishable, being a great deal smaller; the body and head not exceeding seven inches long, and the tail two and a half. The hare has no enemy more fatal than the weasel, which will follow and terrify it into a state of absolute imbecility, giving itself up without resistance, at the same time moaning most piteously. Weasels are very destructive to birds, poultry, and young rabbits; and are great devourers of eggs. They do not eat their prey on the place; but, after killing it by one bite near the head, carry it off to their young. They prey also on moles, and are sometimes caught in mole-traps. They are remarkably active, and run up the sides of walls with such ease, that scarce any place is secure from them ; the body being so small, that almost any hole is pervious to it.— This species frequent out-houses, bains, and granaries, which they clear from mice and rats, being much greater enemies to them than even cats. But in summer they retire from houses, especially into low grounds, about mills, along rivulets, concealing themselves among brushwood to surprise birds; and often take up their abode in old willows, where the female brings forth her young. She prepares for them a bed of straw, leaves, and other herbage: and litters in spring, bringing from six to eight or more at a time. The young are born blind, but soon acquire sight and strength. Their motion consists of unequal and precipitant leaps ; and, when they want to mount a tree or seize a bird, they make a sudden bound, by which they are at once elevated several feet high. They have a disagreeable odour, which is stronger in summer than in winter; and, when pursued or irritated, their smell is felt at a considerable distance. They move always with caution and silence, and never cry but when hurt. Their cry is sharp, rough, and very expressive of resentment. The whole upper part of the body, the head, tail, legs, and feet, are of a very pale tawny brown; the under side of the body, from the chin to the tail, is white.
The following method is recommended to destroy both stoats and weasels: — Provide small squaremade steel traps, with a small chain and iron peg to fix them down; get two drachms of musk, and dip some feathers therein; tie one on the plate of each trap, and set in the hedges, or where it is suspected they frequent: this will soon reduce the number, should it be ever so considerable: if musk cannot conveniently be procured, the trap may be baited with a piece of stale rabbit. In poultry yards and pheasantries, hutch or box traps should always remain set under the walls or pales, baited with any small bird or chicken, or with the entrails of rabbits or fowls: if placed in hare warrens, paint the ends white, and rub the traps over with the entrails of any animal, which will allure the vermin and prevent the hares from entering. Another method : Take sal ammoniac, pound it, and with wheat flour and honey make it into a paste, with the white of an egg; lay it in pellets where they come, and it will kill them.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835.
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