Mustelidae! Rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?
But Mustelidae are the mustelids that play such an important part in the work at Tiggywinkles.
The mustelid family includes such mind-blowing names as wolverines, beech martens, honey badgers and even skunks.
We don’t, however, see these species but Britain does have its own representation of this wide and varied family and we are lucky enough to meet some of them.
The larger mustelids in this country are the otters and badgers, both very positively ticked on our roll call.
Pine martens are, at present, restricted to Scotland whereas their slightly smaller cousin the polecat has made a miraculous recovery across England.
It now regularly features at Tiggys. We even have some orphans ready to be released into suitable habitat.
Just a few years ago the polecat was extinct in England with a small pocket clinging on in Wales.
Wonderfully, in its former territories and now can often be seen, sadly, as road casualties especially in Oxfordshire.
The smaller representatives of the family are stoats and weasels.
How to tell them apart?
I am not going into the silly “weasels are weasily recognised, while stoats are stoatally different” which makes sense in that the stoat is always larger and has a black tip to its tail.
Baby weasels are tiny.
Little pink sausages.
At present we have three orphans in our nursery (pictured). They are on four bottle feeds a day but will soon wean onto meat and grow into that smaller, but probably bravest of all mustelids.
I do tell a lie. We once did take in another mustelid.
A foreigner found in a washing machine in Watford, this zorilla lived with us for many years.
Nobody knows how it got there.