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Chilko Tales
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A Chilko River Ermine

Submitted by admin on Mon, 03/12/2012 - 22:06

Ermine, (Mustela eminea)

This little Ermine came to visit our front deck. It looks pretty cute, even a little cuddly.  Don’t be fooled by its size, they are bold, curious, and are quite ferocious.

Nature gives every species special gifts to protect themselves in the wilds. In this case the Ermine turns white in the winter enabling it to blend in with its snowy environment.  In the summer it turns a silky chocolate brown with a tan underbelly.

Turning white in the winter allows it to blend in with its natural environment benefitting it in two different ways. It allows it to hide from its natural predators such as coyotes, badgers, foxes, owls, eagles, and wolverines.  It also offers the ability to sneak up on its prey such as mice, squirrels, rabbits, picas, pack rats, and birds. If it was brown in the snow it could be seen for miles.

The benefits of having a Ermine as a land mate is they keep the mice populations down. One year we had an Ermine live in the lodge for the winter. We did not have a mouse anywhere.  They are quite slinky; they can flatten themselves to go through the thinnest opening such as under a door.  

At first I was going to title this a “winter visitor”, but in reflection that isn’t correct.  We are roommates, in this case land mates, we both share and live in this little piece of paradise along the Chilko River.

I always find it interesting that the same laws that govern the wilds are the same laws that govern us, even in big cities. There is a saying “When in Rome, do what the romans do”, blend in to your natural environment. It allows both the predator and prey the best survival rate.