What’s the world’s smallest carnivore?

BBC Wildlife section editor Sarah McPherson answers your wild question. 

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Least weasel

Least weasel © Jake Shaw

 

Britain’s tiniest carnivore is also the world’s most minuscule. An adult least weasel (simply ‘weasel’ in the UK) grows no longer than 26cm, and the smallest can weigh as little as 25g – just 0.0025 per cent of the heft of the largest creatures in the order Carnivora, polar and Kodiak bears, weighing up to 1,000kg.

Its stature is the reason why it’s such an efficient predator – with a large surface-area-to-weight ratio, it must eat a third of its own weight daily, entering the burrows of rodents and rabbits to take prey several times larger than itself with a fatal bite to the neck.

Widespread on mainland Britain, the species is also found in Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa, and has been introduced elsewhere. In most of its range, though not Britain, its coat turns white in winter.

 

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