The Cretan least weasel (mustela nivalis galinthias) is an endemic subspecies of the common weasel, which is met all over the island. Other names of the animal is dwarf, pygmy or mouse weasel. Cretans also call it kalogiannou or kalogynekari (meaning nun) due to its white-striped chest, making it look like a nun.
It’s a small animal with short legs, long body and moderate tail, reaching a total length of 17-24 centimeters (females are smaller than males). The color of the Cretan weasel is dark brown to ashy-yellow with a light-colored belly.
It’s a nocturnal animal. At day it hides in its nest, which can be at the roots of a tree or among stones or in walls. Very often it uses as a residence the nests of mice that it covers with dry leaves in order to raise its youngsters.
It lives in forests, in rock cavities, on tree branches, in other animals’ nests, in deserted houses, but also in shrubbery. It feeds on mice, hares, rabbits, eggs, small birds, frogs, etc. The female after a pregnancy of 6 weeks gives birth twice a year to 4-8 youngsters, which are born blind.
It is considered to be useful because it eats mice that destroy fields, but it attacks domestic birds (hens, etc.). It even enters houses and destroys clothes.