Mustela subpalmata 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Mustela subpalmata
Species Authority: Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833
Common Name(s):
English Egyptian Weasel
French Belette Ëgyptienne
Mustela nivalis ssp. subpalmata Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833
Taxonomic Notes: Recognized as a species separate from Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) by van Zyll de Jong (1992), Reig (1997), Abramov and Baryshnikov (2000), Baryshnikov et al. (2003), Wozencraft (2005), Nyakatura and Bininda-Emonds (2012), and McDonald (2013).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-05-08
Assessor(s): McDonald, R.A. & Do Linh San, E.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. & Hoffmann, M.
Contributor(s): Hoffmann, M. & Pacifici, M.
Egyptian Weasel is categorized as Least Concern because although there are only five known localities in the lower Nile Valley of Egypt (with an area of occupancy likely smaller than 500 km²), the species is common where it occurs, there are no obvious threats, and extreme population fluctuations are unlikely. Considering that the species is apparently an obligate synanthrope, it may indeed warrant future listing in a threatened category should a rapid decline occur because of the large suite of potential threats to which such a lifestyle exposes it (e.g., accumulation of new-generation rodenticides, chemicals, diseases, predation by dogs).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Previously considered to be confined to the lower Nile Valley of Egypt, between Beni Suef in the south and Alexandria and the Delta in the north (Handwerk 1993, McDonald 2013). The area of occupancy (AOO) was given by Basuony et al. (2010) as 84 km² and the extent of occurrence (EOO) as 16,470 km² on the basis of the collation of 23 records from four localities. Since 2012, reports of frequent Egyptian Weasel sightings and trapping in the city centre of Aswan (D. Hoek and I. Haitham pers. comm. 2014), ca 650 km south of Beni Suef, indicate that the species's range is larger than thought, but to an unknown degree because it is likely to be discontinuous due to separation of settlements by unsuitable habitats (large swathe of desert) and translocations. Based on current knowledge, the AOO, however, is certainly smaller than 500 km², and might well only be 100–150 km² in size. It is unclear whether animals observed in Aswan have been translocated accidentally or deliberately by cargo transportation (or have dispersed naturally) and whether they are restricted to settled and urbanized areas. Hoath (2003), Basuony et al. (2010) and Leach et al. (2013) considered the species to be amongst the few mammals endemic to Egypt.

Countries occurrence:
Egypt (Egypt (African part))
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Common to abundant; densities of 0.5–1.0 individuals/ha have been estimated from trapping (Handwerk 1993). Egyptian Weasels are opportunistic feeders (Osborn and Helmy 1980, Handwerk 1993).
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Commensal with humans, and often trapped in human habitations, including underground larders (McDonald 2013).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Generation Length (years):2

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no known major threats to the species. As an apparently obligate synanthrope, it faces a large suite of potential future threats, such as accumulation of new-generation rodenticides, chemicals, diseases, and predation by dogs.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Egyptian Weasel is a human commensal. No conservation measures apparently are currently needed, although the ecology of the species has not yet been thoroughly described. It is listed under Vulnerable (Criterion D2) in the Egyptian Red List for mammals (Basuony et al. 2010), although a plausible threat that could drive the taxon to Critically Endangered or Extinct in a very short time—necessary for such categorization—was not suggested.

Classifications [top]

14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.5. Artificial/Terrestrial - Urban Areas
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.7. Artificial/Aquatic - Irrigated Land (includes irrigation channels)

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:No
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education

Bibliography [top]

Abramov, A.V. and Baryshnikov, G.F. 2000. Geographic variation and intraspecific taxonomy of Weasel Mustela nivalis (Carnivora, Mustelidae). Zoosystematica Rossica 8: 365-402.

Baryshnikov, G.F., Bininda-Emonds, O.R.P. and Abramov, A. 2003. Morphological variability and evolution of the baculum (Os penis) in Mustelidae (Carnivora). Journal of Mammalogy 84: 673-690.

Basuony, M.I., Gilbert, F. and Zalat, S. 2010. Mammals of Egypt. Atlas, Red Data Listing and Conservation. Alexandria Library and CULTNET Publishers, Cairo, Egypt.

Handwerk, J. 1993. Zur Biologie und Ökologie ägyptischer Wiesel, Mustela subpalmata Hemprich und Ehrenberg, 1833. Zoology in the Middle East 9: 5-30.

Hoath, R. 2003. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, Egypt and New York, USA.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Leach, K., Zalat, S. and Gilbert, F. 2013. Egypt’s protected area network under future climate change. Biological Conservation 159: 490-500.

McDonald, R.A. 2013. Mustela nivalis Least Weasel (Common Weasel) / Mustela subpalmata Egyptian Weasel. In: J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. Volume V: Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids and Rhinoceroses, pp. 85-87. Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

Nyakatura, K. and Bininda-Emonds, O.R.P. 2012. Updating the evolutionary history of Carnivora (Mammalia): a new species-level supertree complete with divergence time estimates. BMC Biology 10: 12.

Osborn, D.J. and Helmy, I. 1980. The contemporary land mammals of Egypt (including Sinai). Field Museum of Natural History, Bethseda, Maryland.

Reig, S. 1997. Biogeographic and evolutionary implications of size variation in North American least weasels (Mustela nivalis). Canadian Journal of Zoology 75: 2036-2049.

Van Zyll de Jong, C.G. 1992. A morphometric analysis of cranial variation in Holarctic weasels (Mustela nivalis). Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 57: 77-93.

Wozencraft, W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Third Edition, pp. 532-628. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Citation: McDonald, R.A. & Do Linh San, E. 2016. Mustela subpalmata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41660A65993325. . Downloaded on 27 October 2016.
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