Mustelids

Shy carnivores

APAM Archive

Of the seven species of carnivore present in the Park, five belong to the Mustelidae Family. In Latin, mustela means little mouse, but the largest of the mustelids in the Park is more the size and weight of a medium-sized dog: it is the badger (Meles meles), a stout and slow animal, with shy, nocturnal habits. Thanks to its strong and long claws, it easily digs deep setts in the ground where it rests during the day, and which are often also used by foxes. Digging also allow them to find insects, grubs and earthworms that form the basis of their diet, although they do not disdain small vertebrates or fruit.

Compared to badgers beech martens (Martes foina) and the pine martens (Martes martes) have completely different habits and build. They are very agile arboreal animals the size of a cat. Similar in appearance and behaviour, but the pine marten is generally more closely related to coniferous forests while the beech marten prefers broadleaf forests, they can frequent the same environments. Both species are formidable predators of birds, mice, squirrels and dormice.

The least weasel (Mustela nivalis) and the ermine (Mustela erminea) on the other hand are terrestrial species much smaller in size, but just as agile and relentless when hunting their prey of choice: the rodents of the grasslands and stony areas of medium and high altitude. The weasel is common especially in the valley floors, whilst the ermine never frequents altitudes lower than 1000 m; both species moult their fur in winter, which becomes completely white, with the exception of the tip of the ermine's tail, which remains black.