Earth’s smallest carnivore spotted in southwestern Iran

July 6, 2020 - 17:3

TEHRAN – A least weasel, one of the world’s smallest mammals, has been seen for the first time in a mountain of the southwestern province of Khuzestan, Mostafa Yousefi, head of the provincial department environment said on Monday, IRNA reported.

The least weasel (Mustela nivalis), known as little weasel, common weasel, or simply weasel, is the smallest member of the genus Mustela, family Mustelidae and order Carnivora. The body is slender and elongated, the legs and tail are relatively short. The color varies geographically, as does the pelage type and length of tail.

Weasels weigh about 25 grams and grow to just 11 to 26 centimeters long.

Small rodents form the largest part of the least weasel's diet, but it also kills and eats rabbits, other mammals, and occasionally birds, birds' eggs, fish, and frogs.

It is native to Eurasia, North America, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand, Malta, Crete, Bermuda, Madeira Island, the Azores, the Canary Islands, São Tomé, the Falkland Islands, Argentina, and Chile.

The distribution of this species in Iran is from North Khorasan to Azarbaijan, Kordestan, Kermanshah, and Lorestan.

It is classified as least concern by the IUCN, due to its wide distribution and large population throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

The weasel species live in Khuzestan includes beech marten, badgers, honey badger, Eurasian otter, and smooth-coated otter, Yousefi said, IRNA reported on Monday.

Valuable species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and amphibians live in the Shimbar Andika protected area, among which weasel is the smallest carnivore and brown bear, the largest carnivore in Iran, and the Red List species such as leopards, hyenas, wild goats, Greek tortoise, Luristan newt, eastern imperial eagle, and rare species such as black stork and pel’s fishing owl, he also said.

He said that preventing hunting, habitat fragmentation, cutting down trees, overgrazing of livestock, and fire are the most important protection measures in the Zagros forests.

Shimbar protected area is located northeast of Masjed-e-Soleiman city.

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