I was within 3 feet of this little wild animal! Out on a hike with my two sons in Northwestern Montana, we saw an ermine cross right in front of us. We walked up, and I realized it was peeking from its den, just a foot away – he kept popping in and out! I’m into wildlife photography, so I had my camera, but it’s a new one, and I didn’t have a right super zoom lens for it yet.

I was actually scouting landscapes for some cool photos, and normally I would take shots like this with a much longer ranged lens. But the cute animal didn’t seem much bothered by us, so I snapped these beautiful pictures as fast as I could. Then we decided to leave him be. While Ermine (Mustela erminea, also called stoat, short-tailed weasel, or Bonaparte weasel), a member of the weasel family, look as cute as can be, they are also fierce predators who eat frogs, eggs, birds and small mammals! This Ermine was in its white winter coat phase, which helps it blend into the snowy landscape. In the summer they turn brown with a white chest and underbelly, which perfectly camouflages them in forested areas.

I’m a professional photographer based in Northwest Montana, and while I’ve photographed many things I’ve never been able to photograph an ermine before! It was a great experience!

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