While the bigger animals in Grand Teton National Park are much easier to spot, there is an array of little animals in Jackson Hole that are just as unique and interesting to see. One such little animal is the ermine, a Jackson Hole weasel-like animal who like the wolf or the mountain lion, is just as challenging to spot and are just as ferocious to their prey.
What is an ermine?
Ermine are unique, agile hunters that are part of the weasel family. Smaller and more athletic than a ferret, ermine are unique in that they blend with their surroundings based on the season. In the summer, they are a brown color with a white underbelly and black-tipped tail and in the winter, their hide turns all white but the black tip stays. Known to most as a stoat or short-tailed weasel, this aggressive, little hunter prey on birds, small mammals, eggs, and frogs.
Occasionally, you will see these little guys darting across a field. They live in the dens of the prey that they kill, often in old stumps, under trees roots, and in heaps of brushwood, haystacks, and rocks. They live near houses and any other habitat that houses their food source (small rodents).
Where do I find stoat or ermine in Jackson Hole?
We mentioned the habitat above and I’m sure you were thinking to yourself…that’s EVERYWHERE! Ermine do live everywhere on our valley floor. We personally have seen ermine of Wilderness Dr on Teton Village Road as well as on Kings Hwy north of town. Both of these areas are heavily treed and have a large population of voles, prairie dogs, and little critters.
If you are lucky enough to see an ermine in Jackson Hole, make sure you are super fast with your camera. These little hunters are always on the prowl and they move fast. While absolutely adorable, they are ferocious little animals that are just as unique as some of our bigger friends.