Photo by Julie KattTime for another installment of Who's Who in the Aquarium.  Today's featured critter is another long-term resident, and the building's sole mammal.  That, of course, is Wally the long-tailed weasel.  In my Black-crowned Night Heron blog I challenged you to come up another animal one might find in both Michigan and Patagonia, and long-tailed weasel was the answer.  Congrats to everyone who guessed right.  They're a relatively common and smaller (but not smallest) weasel that ranges throughout much of North and South America.


As members of the weasel family, they're highly carnivorous.  Wild prey items include small mammals (as big as rabbits and squirrels!), birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, worms and eggs.  Berries are sometimes eaten as well.  Here at John Ball Zoo, we feed all of our carnivorous mammals a commercial diet formulated to be a complete meal for meat eaters in captivity (remember, wild predators don't eat fatty meats and they are likely to eat organs, fur, and even bone).  We supplement Wally's diet with a mouse, which he gets every thursday for breakfast.  Mmmmmm..  Mouse Day.  And like your dog at home, he gets a monthly dose of heartworm preventative.  Not that he likely gets bitten by many mosquitoes in the Aquarium but better safe than sorry.    


Wally came to us in 2003 along with his brother and sister.  Some kids removed them from their nest as babies and they wound up here.  I'm not sure we were even positive what those blind and naked little critters were at first.  The keepers painstakingly hand reared the trio, feeding them from an eyedropper and taking them home for the night.  All three were raised to adulthood but we lost Wally's sister to a stomach condition when she was still young.  Because adult male weasels can't be kept together, the boys eventually had to be separated and took turns using the exhibit.  While you didn't know it, for a long time you weren't necessarily seeing the same weasel each time you visited.  His brother succumbed to age a while back but Wally's still going strong.  He tends to have only two gears though:  sleep and run.  Have you seen both?  If not, you aren't visiting often enough.


About David Blaszkiewicz

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David received his Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Biology and a Master of Science in Conservation Biology from Central Michigan University.  

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