When a small brown mammal first scampered up to 21-year-old Mike Ogilvie of Bangor, he was a little concerned it might attack him. But the weasel hung back a few feet, watching him with what appeared to be curiosity, stretching its neck to peek at him above the rocks along the shore.
“It seemed like on the last warm days we were going to have,” said Mike. “So we just went to hike around.”
As they continued on their way, they were surprised to find the weasel was following them.
“He followed us for probably half an hour, 45 minutes,” Mike said. “It was just really weird.”
The weasel darted from rock to rock so quickly that at one point, the two men thought there might be more than one.
When they reached a jumble of granite blocks at the far end of island, Mike decided to pause on a rock and record a video of their unexpected hiking companion on his camera phone. The weasel put on quite a show, zigzagging through the rocks and popping up to look at Olgivie from time to time to stare at the two laughing men. After a few minutes, the weasel lost interest and darted off.
A few days later, Mike posted the video — 2 minutes and 35 seconds — on YouTube. He called it “Whack a Weasel” (ref. Whack-a-Mole).
Mike has been posting videos on his Youtube channel, “Mikey Ogilvie,” for a few years, but this is his first wildlife video. His other videos include parodies and spoofs. He’s also created footage to promote Bangor’s annual Zombie Walk. When it comes right down to it, he simply enjoys making people laugh, and the weasel footage fit the bill.
In hindsight, he wishes he’d brought a better camera on the hike. Unfortunately, another close encounter with a weasel isn’t likely.
Though short-tailed weasels are abundant in Maine, people don’t often catch sight of them. Known as fierce carnivores, weasels typically hunt at night on small mammals such as mice and voles, though they’ll eat a variety of other things when food is scarce.
As you’ll see in the video, a short-tailed weasel has a brown summer coat, with creamy white underneath. In winter, however, they transform, becoming almost completely white (the tip of their tail remains black). Typically, people then call them ermine.
You’ll notice that the weasel looks like its moving rather sporadically in the video. But this isn’t unusual movement for the ermine. The ermine’s lithe, agile body allows it to move swiftly above ground and through underground burrows, according to an ermine information page penned by Heather Loso on Animal Diversity Web, and it tends to hunt in a zigzagging pattern, progressing by a series of long leaps.
While weasels are typically seen in residential areas, plenty of Maine recreationists (hunters, hikers and trappers) have had encounters with members of the weasel family in woods.
“The whole weasel family are really brazen critters,” said David Miller, who has been trapping in Maine since the 1950s. During his time in the woods, he’s gotten to know the weasel family quite well.
Also members of the weasel family are the pine marten and fisher.