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Lunch On The Run
11 x 14

*Winner of the Society of Animal Artists
Award of Excellence 2017

Native to North America and Eurasia, the short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea) also called a stoat, is a tiny weasel measuring only 8-14 inches and weighing less than 300 grams. In spring and summer their coat is brown above and white below, changing to pure white in winter. This white fur, prized by trappers, is simply known as ermine. Short-tailed weasels love to inhabit hollow stumps and logs, rodent burrows, rock piles, old sheds and hay piles. They have incredibly high energy requirements and feed frequently, often storing prey items for a later meal. An opportunistic predator, these animals will eat whatever they can wrestle into submission. Their diet includes rodents, young rabbits, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects. Recently, a series of photos on the internet went viral showing a woodpecker flying with a short-tailed weasel attached to its back. This is a great example of just how bold these creatures are. Grasping the nape of the neck of its prey, it will hang on tenaciously until the animal succumbs. 

The inspiration for this piece came one day while driving down my road in January. Suddenly a tiny short-tailed weasel, sporting full winter white pelage, darted across the road in front of me carrying a vole in its mouth. I stopped my vehicle, cursing my luck at not having my camera, as these little mammals are seldom seen in daylight where I live. I peered at the log at the side of the road that the tiny animal had bounded under. Suddenly it appeared, standing fully upright on its hind legs, meal clenched tightly in its jaws, and looked at me for a moment before disappearing again under the log. I am always grateful for these fleeting glimpses of wildlife and nature and decided to recreate the scene, as best as I could remember, in this artwork - the low angle of the sun casting long shadows on what was a very brief and mesmerizing sighting.