The weasel is small. Really small. Much smaller than most people realise. It is not only the smallest mustelid, it’s also the smallest carnivore in the world. Growing to between 13 and 26 cm in length and weighing as little as 25 grams in some cases – about the same as an AA battery – it is a mere 0.0025% of the weight of the planet’s biggest terrestrial carnivore, the polar bear.
Welcome to Animal World Records! In this regular feature, we’ll be looking at animals that are the fastest, biggest or smallest of their kind. Those that fly higher in the air, or live deeper in the ocean, than any other. Those with the longest tongue, or the largest eyes, or the most number of legs.
If, like us, you found yourself during lockdown being overwhelmed by day after day of increasingly grim news, you may have found solace in the Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Madness is certainly apt. Every few minutes of this messy, captivating, and at times surreal, series yields some new surprise or jaw-dropping twist, to the extent that if I tried to explain the seven episodes in detail to someone who had never seen the show, I might be accused of making it all up.
When I was young, the first bird of prey that I was able to easily identify was the kestrel. I suspect the same is true of many other people. The kestrel’s silhouette, suspended in the sky as if by wire over some heathland or motorway, became instantly recognisable to me, for no other British bird of prey can hover in place with such utmost precision.