Mammals of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Long-tailed Weasel - Mustela frenata
Mustelidae Members:
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Photo by: Joshua Bowen, Brad Bowen
Distribution It occurs (or better stated "occurred") essentially throughout NC, though there is a disturbing lack of records for a number of Piedmont and Coastal Plain counties. Fortunately, only one mountain county (Graham) seems to lack a record.

Nearly throughout the lower 48 states, except in the far southwestern deserts; also in southern Canada, and southward into Mexico.
Abundance Almost certainly declining, based on the paucity of recent records. Despite it perhaps occurring in all 100 counties of the state, it is scarce and very difficult to observe. Uncommon in the mountains, and essentially rare (if not even very rare) now in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. There are very few recent records from east of the mountains, including just one on the iNaturalist website from these provinces. The fact that most counties in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain have their most "recent" record based on Lee et al. (1982) indicates the strong decline in numbers east of the mountains. It is considered as a Watch List species by the N.C. Natural Heritage Program.
Seasonal Occurrence Occurs year-round.
Habitat Generally within forests, or along and near their edges; also occurs in brushy areas, but unlike the Least Weasel, does not generally occur in extensive open areas. Infrequent in wetlands.
See also Habitat Account for General Sparsely Settled Mixed Habitats
Behavior Very active, both day and night, but seldom seen because of its secretive nature and presumably small numbers. Swims fairly well.
Comments For a species that occurs from high mountains to the coastal areas in the state, the species is poorly known by most people, and few are seen alive. Even roadkills are seldom noted. The obvious decline of the species is suspected to be related to an increase in its predators, such as Coyotes and foxes, over the past few decades. The current State Rank of S3 might even be too liberal (optimistic), and S2S3 might now be more accurate. Whether it should be moved from the program's Watch List to its Significantly Rare list is debatable, but it certainly is worth thought.
Origin Native
NC List Official
State Rank S3
State Status W
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
subspecies Mustela frenata noveboracensis, Mustela frenata olivacea

M. f. noveboracensis occurs over the mountains, Piedmont, and northern Coastal Plain; M. f. olivacea occurs in the southern half of the Coastal Plain.
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all database records for species in that county.