Due to their apparent intelligence and adaptability, mustelids typically thrive if introduced into new ranges and increasingly they live among us even in urbanized areas (e.g., stone martens (Martes foina): Hisano et al. 2016). Yet, despite our general acquaintance with some members of this family, many aspects of their behavior, and particularly their cognitive abilities, remain more mysterious than those of their canid and felid cousins. This is likely due to their smaller size and more nocturnal lifestyle as well as being less amenable to being domesticated (with the singular exception of the domesticated ferret Mustela putorius furo). In this chapter we explore why this should be, identifying that despite being unified as “long, thin, and stinky,” they exhibit a diversity of cognitive traits linked to their form and function, powers of perception, and communication, resulting in disparate extents of social behavior and cognitive abilities.
The Constraints of Form,...
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