Britain's tiniest carnivore is also the world’s smallest member of the mammalian Carnivora order. An adult least weasel (simply referred to as a '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 kodiack bears, weighing up to 1,000kg.

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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.

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In most of its range, though not Britain, its coat turns white in winter.

Authors

Sarah McPhersonFeatures editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine
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