Gornostay is a valuable furry animal of the family of cunts.
Gornostai is a small animal of a typical cuneiform appearance with a long body on short legs, a long neck and a triangular head with small rounded ears. The length of the male body is 17-38 cm (females are approximately half the size), the length of the tail is about 35% of the body length - 6-12 cm; Body weight - from 70 to 260. It looks like a weasel, but somewhat larger than its size. The color of the fur is patronizing: in the winter it is pure white, in summer it is two-colored - the top of the body is brownish-red, the bottom is yellowish white. Winter color is typical for areas where the minimum of 40 days a year is snow. The tip of the tail is black throughout the year. The geographical variability of the quality of winter fur, the coloring of summer fur and the size of the body allows us to distinguish the order of 26 subspecies of the ermine.
It inhabits the arctic, subarctic and temperate zones of Eurasia and North America. In Europe, it occurs from Scandinavia to the Pyrenees and the Alps, with the exception of Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. In Asia, its range reaches the deserts of Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Northeast China and northern Japan. In North America it is found in Canada, on the islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, in Greenland and in the north of the USA (except Great Plains). On the territory of Russia it is common in the European north and in Siberia. I was brought to New Zealand to control the rabbit population.Life
Gornostai is most numerous in the forest-steppe, taiga and tundra areas. The choice of their habitat is determined by the abundance of the main food - small rodents. As a rule, ermine prefers to settle near water: on the shores and floodplains of rivers and streams, near forest lakes, along coastal meadows, bushes and reeds. Into the depths of forest tracts comes rarely; In the forests there are old overgrown fires and cuttings, fringes (especially near settlements and plowlands); In the dense forests loves tavern fir groves and alders. Common in the copses, along the steppe ravines and girders. Open spaces avoid. Sometimes settles near human habitation, in fields, in gardens and forest parks, even on the outskirts of cities.
It leads primarily a single territorial way of life. The boundaries of the individual site are marked by the secretion of the anal glands. The size of the plot varies from 10 to 20 ha; In males, it is usually twice as large as that of females, and intersects with their areas. Males and females live separately and are found only during the mating season. In the hungry and low-food years of ermine leave their plots and move, sometimes for considerable distances. Sometimes the migration causes and mass reproduction of rodents in neighboring areas. Active ermine is mainly in the twilight and night hours, sometimes occurs in the daytime. In the choice of shelters, including broods, unpretentious. It can be found in the most unexpected places - for example, in haystacks, piles of stones, in the ruins of abandoned buildings or in logs, folded against the wall of a residential house. It also occupies the hollows of trees, often hides in them during high water. Often, the ermine occupies the burrows and nesting chambers of the rodents that they killed. The female lays its brood hole with skins and wool of killed rodents, less often with dry grass. He does not dig himself on his own. In winter, there are no permanent shelters and uses occasional shelter - under rocks, tree roots, logs. At the place of the day, it is rarely returned.
Gornostai swims and climbs well, but in essence it is a specialized ground predator. In its diet, mice-like rodents predominate, but in contrast to their kin-petting, feeding on small voles, ermine hunts for larger rodents - water vole, hamster, chipmunk, haymaking, lemmings, etc., overtaking them in burrows and under snow. Dimensions do not allow him to penetrate the burrows of smaller rodents. Females hunt in burrows more often than males. Of secondary importance in the diet of ermine are birds and their eggs, as well as fish and shrews. Even less often (with a lack of basic food), ermine eats amphibians, lizards and insects. It is able to attack animals larger than themselves (wood grouses, grouse, white partridges, rabbits and rabbits); In the hungry years, he even eats dregs or steals meat and fish from people. With an abundance of food, the ermine suits its reserves, destroying more rodents than it can eat. Extraction kills like caress, - biting the skull in the occipital region. Rodent ermine monitors, focusing on the smell, insects - on sound, fish - with the help of vision. Gornostai is a very moving and dexterous animal. His movements are quick, but somewhat fussy. On the hunt for the day, it passes to 15 km, in winter - an average of 3 km. In the snow it moves with jumps up to 50 cm in length, with both hind legs pushed away from the ground. He swims perfectly and easily climbs trees. Pursued by the enemy, he often sits on a tree until the danger passes. Usually silent, but in an excited state loudly chirps, can tweet, hiss and even bark. This small predator is very brave and bloodthirsty; At a hopeless situation, he risks rushing even at the person. The natural enemies of the ermine are red and gray foxes, martens, ilka, sable, American badger, birds of prey; Occasionally it is caught by ordinary cats. Many ermines die from infection with the parasitic nematode Skrjabingylus nasicola, settling in the frontal sinuses; Its carriers are, obviously, shrews.
Gornostay polygamus, reproduces once a year. Sexual activity in males continues 4 months, from mid-February to early June. Pregnancy in females with a long latent stage (8-9 months) - embryos do not develop until March. In total, it lasts 9-10 months, so the cubs appear in April-May next year. The number of cubs in litters varies from 3 to 18, on average 4-9. They are engaged only by the female. The newborns have a mass of 3-4 g, with a body length of 32-51 mm, are born blind, toothless, with closed auditory canals and covered with rare white wool. On 30-41 day, they catch sight, and in 2-3 months in size are indistinguishable from adults. At the end of June - in July they are already self-extracting food. Sexual maturity of females reach very early, in 2-3 months, and males are only at the age of 11-14 months. Young females (aged 60-70 days) can be productively covered by adult males - a unique case among mammals that contributes to the survival of the species. The average life expectancy of an ermine is 1-2 years, the maximum is 7 years. Fertility and numbers of ermines vary greatly, rising sharply during the years of abundance of rodents and catastrophically falling when they die.