Congratulations to vtmonarch for winning the February 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Their photo of an American Ermine with a Northern Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda) received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Like the Long- tailed Weasel and its other relatives, Ermine (aka Short-tailed Weasel) is a predator. Ermine hunt voles, shrews, cottontail rabbits, rats, chipmunks and nesting birds. They will also store, or cache, extra food for later use. In summer, they also eat fruit and berries.
The changing day length initiates the color shift from brown to white fur in winter. The waning hours of daylight trigger a response in the hypothalamus, commonly referred to as the “master gland”, and cause animals to undergo many changes that help them survive the winter, including changes in coat color and thickness.
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!