This is a question that more than 5711 of our readers have been asking us! Luckily, we have found the most appropriate information for you!

The stoat is of the mustelid family, larger than the least weasel and considered particularly aggressive. Stoats, however, weigh less than 260 grams (9 oz), which gives them impressive and dizzying agility and speed to add to their ferocity. In fact, stoats are capable of taking on and defeating prey twenty times heavier than themselves. Stoats are distributed around the northern areas of the Eurasian and North American continents, living in steppes and wooded alpine areas at low altitudes. They are not endangered animals, but they have been hunted and farmed for their fur.

03/06/2021
We live in an area where rats and squirrels tend to do lots of damage to gardens, and I can understand both the temptation to want to get a stoat to release into the environment, as well as the reasons why it is not advisable to do so. If you have found a stoat and are able to trap them humanely, you should take them to your local animal services or wildlife rehabbers who will be able to give them the care they need. 27/12/2020
Thank you for your email about stoats as pets since I took one in after 3 weeks it found a way out of my house and yard before I tried to re-home it and has gone back to the wild I hope it will survive thank you for your help Nigel in egremont Cumbria 20/09/2019
Yea so we have this stout named Weasle moved in with us and our two large country dogs last year.yea that’s right,the little wild pain in the butt just made himself at home..we get along fine with him despite his all night partying except one thing.He destroys my garden..why when he isn’t eating it.He pulled all the tomatoes off the plant and made a pile of the leaves. 06/07/2018
Hi Allen,We can understand why it would be lovely to have new fauna introduced to your local area, observing happy animals in the wild is always a pleasure. When an animal is introduced by local authorities it is researched as much as possible and considerable tests are carried out to see if it would be a good idea. We’ve lost several of our native bird species to stoats – they are considered a massive risk here and basically a “kill on sight” pest (Upsetting as that may be, we have no natural land predators, and a massive variety of birds, who are very vulnerable to rats/stoats/possums) https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/pests-and-threats/animal-pests/stoats/ I hope this maybe informs any decision you may want to or have made. Depending where in the world you live, you can give money to animal rescue organizations, national wildlife trusts or similar if you want to benefit the mink. Herman showed up just after Christmas in his white coat, and has since turned brown (in March) and is about twice as big. We named him Weasle.i didn’t know he could run out of mice and starve so easy,he is the best mouser we’ve ever had.my canine persons don’t eat kibbles so I’m wondering if he can have some chicken liver.how should we feed him so he won’t become dependent or dangerously tame?

Can a stoat be a pet?

The stoat is rarely found in captivity and is a difficult animal to look after. Keeping stoats as pets is illegal in most states in the U.S., and as such, there are no licensed breeders. This means that any stoats for sale are likely wild-caught specimens and very likely illegal.

Is a stoat a ferret?

INTRODUCTION. Ferrets belong to the family Mustelidae, a diverse group of small to medium-size carnivores that includes weasels, stoats, polecats, mink, skunks, otters, and badgers.

How do stoats kill?

Stoats kill their prey by a bite to the back of the neck and may travel as far as 8 kilometres in one hunt. Stoats are fierce predators and can move at speeds of 20 miles per hour when hunting.

What is the difference between a stoat and weasel?

The easiest and most reliable way to tell a stoat (Mustela erminea) from a weasel (Mustela nivalis) is the tail. A stoat’s tail is around half the length of its body and ends in a bushy black tip. A weasel’s tail is short and stubby by comparison and solely brown in colour.

The stoat or short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea), also known as the Eurasian ermine, Beringian ermine, or simply ermine, is a mustelid native to Eurasia and the northern portions of North America. Because of its wide circumpolar distribution, it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.[1]

The name ermine is used for species in the genus Mustela , especially the stoat, in its pure white winter coat, or the fur thereof. Introduced in the late 19th century into New Zealand to control rabbits, the stoat has had a devastating effect on native bird populations. [5] According to John Guillim , in his Display of Heraldrie , the word “ermine” is likely derived from Armenia , the nation where it was thought the species originated, [4] though other authors have linked it to the Norman French from the Teutonic harmin ( Anglo-Saxon hearma ). The stoat’s direct ancestor was Mustela palerminea , a common carnivore in central and eastern Europe during the Middle Pleistocene , [10] that spread to North America during the late Blancan or early Irvingtonian . [11] The stoat is the product of a process that began 5–7 million years ago, when northern forests were replaced by open grassland, thus prompting an explosive evolution of small, burrowing rodents. The stoat’s ancestors were larger than the current form, and underwent a reduction in size as they exploited the new food source. The stoat thrived during the Ice Age , as its small size and long body allowed it to easily operate beneath snow, as well as hunt in burrows. The stoat and the long-tailed weasel remained separated until 500,000 years ago, when falling sea levels exposed the Bering land bridge . [13] The mountain weasel ( Mustela altaica ) was formerly considered its closest relative although more recent analyses have found it to be significantly more derived. Its vertical range is from sea level to 3,000 m. [1] In North America, it is found throughout Alaska and western Yukon to most of ArcticCanada east to Greenland . M. e. augustidens Brown, 1908
Fergana stoat M. e. ferghanae Thomas, 1895
A small subspecies; it has a very light, straw-brownish or greyish coat, which is short and soft. [19] Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East including Kamchatka , except the Amur Oblast and Ussuriland , Transbaikalia and the Sayan Mountains . [26] Unusual among the Carnivora, the size of stoats tends to decrease proportionally with latitude, in contradiction to Bergmann’s rule . When attacked or being aggressive, the stoat secretes the contents of its anal glands, giving rise to a strong, musky odour produced by several sulphuric compounds. In the stoat’s northern range, it adopts a completely white coat (save for the black tail-tip) during the winter period. Stoats undergo embryonic diapause , meaning that the embryo does not immediately implant in the uterus after fertilization, but rather lies dormant for a period of nine to ten months. [32] The gestation period is therefore variable but typically around 300 days, and after mating in the summer, the offspring will not be born until the following spring – female stoats spend almost all their lives either pregnant or in heat. [33] Males play no part in rearing the young, which are born blind, deaf, toothless and covered in fine white or pinkish down. The size of the territory and the ranging behaviour of its occupants varies seasonally, depending on the abundance of food and mates. In Russia, its prey includes rodents and lagomorphs such as European water voles , common hamsters , pikas , and others, which it overpowers in their burrows. Prey species of secondary importance include small birds , fish , and shrews and, more rarely, amphibians , lizards , and insects . [37] In Great Britain, European rabbits are an important food source, with the frequency in which stoats prey on them having increased between the 1960s and mid 1990s since the end of the myxomatosis epidemic. Typically, male stoats prey on rabbits more frequently than females do, which depend to a greater extent on smaller rodent species. The stoat typically eats about 50 grams (1.8 oz) of food a day, which is equivalent to 25% of the animal’s live weight. Submissive stoats express their status by avoiding higher-ranking animals, fleeing from them or making whining or squealing sounds. Stoats were introduced into New Zealand during the late 19th century to control rabbits and hares, but are now a major threat to native bird populations. The warnings were ignored and stoats began to be introduced from Britain in the 1880s, resulting in a noticeable decline in bird populations within six years. In continental Europe, 26 flea species are recorded to infest stoats, including Rhadinospylla pentacantha , Megabothris rectangulatus , Orchopeas howardi , Spilopsyllus ciniculus , Ctenophthalamus nobilis , Dasypsyllus gallinulae , Nosopsyllus fasciatus , Leptospylla segnis , Ceratophyllus gallinae , Parapsyllus n. nestoris , Amphipsylla kuznetzovi and Ctenopsyllus bidentatus . Mite species known to infest stoats include Neotrombicula autumnalis , Demodex erminae , Eulaelaps stabulans , Gymnolaelaps annectans , Hypoaspis nidicorva , and Listrophorus mustelae . [47] In the Zoroastrian religion, the stoat is considered a sacred animal, as its white winter coat represented purity. Similarly, Mary Magdalene was depicted as wearing a white stoat pelt as a sign of her reformed character. Gilles Servat ‘s song La Blanche Hermine (“The White Ermine”) became an anthem for Bretons (and is popular among French people in general). The fur from the winter coat is referred to as ermine and is the traditional ancient symbol of the Duchy of Brittany , forming the earliest flag of that nation. There is also a design called ermine inspired by the winter coat of the stoat and painted onto other furs, such as rabbit. The ceremonial robes of members of the UKHouse of Lords and the academic hoods of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge are traditionally trimmed with ermine. Prelates of the Catholic Church still wear ecclesiastical garments featuring ermine (a sign of their status equal to that of the nobility). Henry Peacham ‘s Emblem 75 , which depicts an ermine being pursued by a hunter and two hounds, is entitled “Cui candor morte redemptus” (“Purity Bought with His Own Death”). The stoat was a fundamental item in the fur trade of the Soviet Union , with no less than half the global catch coming from within its borders. American actress Alice Maison shown wearing ermine fur in a Mack Sennett comedy film “Lineage Diversity and Size Disparity in Musteloidea: Testing Patterns of Adaptive Radiation Using Molecular and Fossil-Based Methods” . “Age structure, dispersion and diet of a population of stoats ( Mustela erminea ) in southern Fiordland during the decline phase of the beechmast cycle” (PDF) . ^ a b c Harris & Yalden 2008 , p. 466 ^ Monaghan, Patricia (2004) The encyclopedia of Celtic mythology and folklore: Facts on File library of religion and mythology , page 426, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 0-8160-4524-0 ^ Daniels, Cora Linn & Stevans, C. M. Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World, Volume 2 (2003), The Minerva Group, Inc., ISBN 1-4102-0915-6 ^ Laakso, Johanna (2005) Our otherness: Finno-Ugrian approaches to women’s studies, or vice versa, Volume 2 of Finno-Ugrian studies in Austria , LIT Verlag Münster, ISBN 3-8258-8626-3 ^ Sax, Boria (2001) The mythical zoo: an encyclopedia of animals in world myth, legend, and literature , ABC-CLIO, ISBN 1-57607-612-1 ^ a b “A house of traditions” .

Found in the UK, stoats and weasels are both small, brown, fast and ferocious mustelids with sinuous bodies and short legs. Learn how to identity each species, habitat, diet and the best places to spot in the British countryside.

In the UK, there are seven mustelid species found in the wild, including stoat, weasel, badger, pine marten, American mink, polecat and otter. Each species varies widely in looks and behaviour, but generally speaking mustelids are long-bodied, short-legged, thickly furred and tend to be active at night, which makes them elusive. Stoats and weasels are two of the most similar mustelid species and can be tricky to identify when you only catch a brief glimpse. Scientific name Mustela erminea Body Long and lithe; roughly the size of a thin rat Size Up to 25cm long (head and body); male is noticeably larger than female Flanks Uniformly brown; form a straight, contrasting line with pale belly Throat No brown patches Tail Medium length; rearmost third always black Underside Creamy white Habitat Open countryside and drystone walls throughout Britain and Ireland The stoat is a long thin shape which enables them to pursue prey above and below ground, but your best chance of seeing one is in rough grassland, around rabbit warrens or near wood piles. Stoats often hunts in daylight, sometimes stalking prey in the open and nesting in old burrows. Droppings or scats can tell us a lot about which animals have been visiting our gardens, parks and countryside, including hedgehogs, foxes and badgers. Stoats are fierce predators and eat 25 per cent of their body weight a day, so they spend a lot of time hunting. Stoats hunt small mammals opportunistically, moving rapidly and investigating all possible hiding places, says Steve Harris. Once located, their victims are generally caught in a couple of bounds; stoats may wrap their bodies around large mice or small rats to subdue them. Stoats approach rabbits cautiously, stopping and standing up on their hind legs to judge distances. They use cover to get close and judge their final dash carefully to ensure that they maximise the surprise to the rabbit and minimise the chance of injury to themselves. Once they have made a kill, stoats quickly drag larger prey into cover to avoid attracting the attention of other predators. The remains of the carcass will be cached for future use, either under dense vegetation or loosely buried under a log or rock. Sexes are similar in size Flanks Dividing line between tawny brown back and pale belly patchy and irregular Throat Brown patch or ‘gular spot’ on each side Tail Entirely brown; very short and often hard to see Underside Pure white Habitat Hedgerows, woods and rough grassy banks; absent from Ireland A weasel’s coat doesn’t change colour in Britain, as it remains a rich, tawny brown all year. In winter the vegetation dies back, making it easier to spot mammal holes and burrows. An adult least weasel (simply called the ‘weasel’ in the UK, or Mustela nivalis scientifically) grows no longer than 26cm, and the smallest can weigh as little as 25g – just 0.0025 per cent of the heft of the largest creatures in the order Carnivora, polar and Kodiak bears, weighing up to 1,000kg. Its stature is the reason why it’s such an efficient predator – with a large surface-area-to-weight ratio, it must eat a third of its own weight daily, entering the burrows of rodents and rabbits to take prey several times larger than itself with a fatal bite to the neck.

Stoats and ferrets, along with weasels, minks, and badgers, belong to the same family of carnivorous mammals called Mustelids. This family of mammals has similar physical characteristics, including elongated bodies, short legs, and thick fur. They are also all typically nocturnal animals that prefer to live solitary lives.

Stoats and ferrets, along with weasels , minks , and badgers, belong to the same family of carnivorous mammals called Mustelids. Image Credit: Juvenile_Colin Seddon, ShutterstockStoats are small but ferocious little animals and can take on prey up to 20 times their own weight. They are typically found in wooded areas all over North America, and although they are not considered endangered, they have commonly been hunted for their beautiful fur. The stoat’s coat changes color for the winter, and they turn from a reddish-brown with a light brown or cream tummy, to all white except for their tail, which always remains black. If you have raised a stoat from a baby (known as a “kit”), they are easier to tame and less likely to act aggressively, and can thus usually be domesticated in the same way as ferrets. Stoats mainly feed on small mammals like rabbits and water voles and are highly adept hunters, known for killing prey much larger than themselves with one fast bite behind the head. They are commonly fed with heart, liver, and occasionally mice, supplemented with eggs and small amounts of fruit. Another issue is owners not being able to handle the complicated needs of a stoat and releasing them into the wild, which can have a devastating effect on local ecosystems. Image Credit: PBarlowArt, PixabayFerrets are a fair bit larger than stoats and are typically around the size of a small housecat. Despite the controversy surrounding keeping ferrets as pets, they are not caught from the wild and can live happily in a domestic environment. Ferrets are playful and endlessly entertaining little animals that have unique characters and personalities that continue to develop as they grow older. Ferrets are known to be widely varied in their personality types; some are loners that prefer their own company most of the time, some are exceedingly playful and entertaining, and others are akin to small dogs that enjoy attention whenever they can get it and have tons of affection to give. Stoats are smaller, at least half the size of a ferret, are much more energetic and active throughout the day — stopping only to take small naps occasionally — and are rarely kept as pets. Ferrets are bred in captivity and make great pets for responsible owners and are easier to care for and far less energetic.

Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

The stoat is of theUndoubtedly fascinating and cute, some have wondered about whether we can keep stoats as pets? With AnimalWised, we look in detail with our guide to stoats as pets, providing guidelines and tips to help you know what to do.

Can you keep a stoats as pets?

The attraction to keeping stoats as pets is obvious when we look at them. Their cuteness and similarities to other companion animals makes us think they might be similarly suitable living companions. When we see stoats in action, we can have an idea of their behavior. Said behavior makes themShort, also known asThis aggressiveness will result in physical attack. Stoats have various levels of aggressive behavior. They will bite when threatened. As wild animals which have not been domesticated, this will happen a lot. Although they feel soft to the touch, petting them isn’t easy.Stoats are fierce carnivorous animals, specialized in biting the back of theirSince stoats can attack large animals twice their size, they can easily take down dogs and cats which are much larger than they. Since keeping stoats as pets is rare, records of them attacking humans are rare. However, attacks on young babies and seniors have been reportedThe threat to other animals and even humans in the home can be serious, so you will need to keep it in consideration. Stoats will need plenty of space to run around for their own health, so if you cannot do this safely with other animals, it is not advised you keep them as pets. If you like the idea of keeping a pet stoat, check out our article on ferrets as pets. They meet very similar criteria, but are more domesticated and better suited in the home.

Are stoats legal as pets?

We strongly advise against adopting stoats as pets. Not only for the behavioral reasons we mention above, but there aren’t any stoat breeding centers that we’re aware of. It is not uncommon to confuse mink farms with stoat farms, but minks are a different mustelid species. When you do find stoats for sale, they are usually illegally captured wild specimens. If you buy one, you’ll be promoting illegal and harmful wildlife trade.It isHowever, it’s not uncommon to find orphaned stoats. This happens when, for whatever reason, the baby stoat – which is a tiny creature – gets lost, or the mother dies. In these cases it is lawful to save the small one and adopt it, although the best option is undoubtedly to take them to aBefore picking up a young stoat, you need to wait for them to call their mother. If she doesn’t appear after a certain amount of time, you should take it upon yourself to save the life of the orphaned stoat.

Raising a young stoat as a pet

The main priority will be feeding theAn immature stoat will be able to become domesticated in a similar way a ferret. The young pet stoat should be taught to bite softly when playing, and to do their business in cat litter. It should be noted that the stoat is much more active than the ferret, so much more time should be devoted toIt is much better for the stoat to live in the wild. This is why wildlife recovery centers will be able to help reintroduce them (unless they are considered an invasive species in the area).

A pet stoat’s diet

There are more than 30 subspecies of stoat, but by widely generalizing you could put them into two categories:

Stoat

TheThe name ermine /ˈɜːrmɪn/ is used for species in the genusIntroduced in the late 19th century into New Zealand to control rabbits, the stoat has had a devastating effect on native bird populations. It was nominated as one of the world’s top 100 “worst invaders”.Ermine luxury fur was used in the 15th century by Catholic monarchs, who sometimes used it as the mozzetta cape. It was also used in capes on images such as the Infant Jesus of Prague.

Etymology[edit]

The root word for “stoat” is likely either the Dutch word

Taxonomy[edit]

Formerly considered a single species with a very wide circumpolar range, a 2021 study split

Evolution[edit]

The stoat’s direct ancestor wasCombined phylogenetic analyses indicate the stoat’s closest living relatives are the American ermine (

Range and population[edit]

The stoat has a circumboreal range throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The stoat in Europe is found as far south as 41ºN in Portugal, and inhabits most islands with the exception of Iceland, Svalbard, the Mediterranean islands and some small North Atlantic islands. In Japan, it is present in central mountains (northern and central Japan Alps) to northern part of Honshu (primarily above 1,200 m) and Hokkaido. Its vertical range is from sea level to 3,000 m.

Subspecies[edit]

As of 2021

Description[edit]

Build[edit]

The stoat is similar to the least weasel in general proportions, manner of posture, and movement, though the tail is relatively longer, always exceeding a third of the body length,The dimensions of the stoat are variable, but not as significantly as the least weasel’s.The stoat has large anal scent glands measuring 8.5 mm × 5 mm (0.33 in × 0.20 in) in males and smaller in females. Scent glands are also present on the cheeks, belly and flanks.

Fur[edit]

The winter fur is very dense and silky, but quite closely lying and short, while the summer fur is rougher, shorter and sparse.

Behaviour[edit]

Reproduction and development[edit]

In the Northern Hemisphere, mating occurs in the April–July period. In spring, the male’s testes are enlarged, a process accompanied by an increase of testosterone concentration in the plasma. Spermatogenesis occurs in December, and the males are fertile from May to August, after which the testes regress.

Territorial and sheltering behaviour[edit]

Stoat territoriality has a generally mustelid spacing pattern, with male territories encompassing smaller female territories, which they defend from other males. The size of the territory and the ranging behaviour of its occupants varies seasonally, depending on the abundance of food and mates. During the breeding season, the ranges of females remain unchanged, while males either become roamers, strayers or transients. Dominant older males have territories 50 times larger than those of younger, socially inferior males. Both sexes mark their territories with urine, faeces and two types of scent marks; anal drags are meant to convey territorial occupancy, and body rubbing is associated with agonistic encounters.The stoat does not dig its own burrows, instead using the burrows and nest chambers of the rodents it kills. The skins and underfur of rodent prey are used to line the nest chamber. The nest chamber is sometimes located in seemingly unsuitable places, such as among logs piled against the walls of houses. The stoat also inhabits old and rotting stumps, under tree roots, in heaps of brushwood, haystacks, in bog hummocks, in the cracks of vacant mud buildings, in rock piles, rock clefts, and even in magpie nests. Males and females typically live apart, but close to each other.

Diet[edit]

As with the least weasel, mouse-like rodents predominate in the stoat’s diet. However, unlike the least weasel, which almost exclusively feeds on small voles, the stoat regularly preys on larger rodent and lagomorph species, and will take down individuals far larger than itself. In Russia, its prey includes rodents and lagomorphs such as European water voles, common hamsters, pikas, and others, which it overpowers in their burrows. Prey species of secondary importance include small birds, fish, and shrews and, more rarely, amphibians, lizards, and insects.The stoat is an opportunistic predator that moves rapidly and checks every available burrow or crevice for food. Because of their larger size, male stoats are less successful than females in pursuing rodents far into tunnels. Stoats regularly climb trees to gain access to birds’ nests, and are common raiders of nest boxes, particularly those of large species. The stoat reputedly mesmerises prey such as rabbits by a “dance” (sometimes called the weasel war dance), though this behaviour could be linked to

Introduction to New Zealand[edit]

The stoat is a usually silent animal, but can produce a range of sounds similar to those of the least weasel. Kits produce a fine chirping noise. Adults trill excitedly before mating, and indicate submission through quiet trilling, whining and squealing. When nervous, the stoat hisses, and will intersperse this with sharp barks or shrieks and prolonged screeching when aggressive.Aggressive behaviour in stoats is categorised in these forms:Submissive stoats express their status by avoiding higher-ranking animals, fleeing from them or making whining or squealing sounds.

Diseases and parasites[edit]

Tuberculosis has been recorded in stoats inhabiting the former Soviet Union and New Zealand. They are largely resistant to tularemia, but are reputed to suffer from canine distemper in captivity. Symptoms of mange have also been recorded.Stoats are vulnerable to ectoparasites associated with their prey and the nests of other animals on which they do not prey. The louseThe nematode

Relationships with humans[edit]

Folklore and mythology[edit]

In Irish mythology, stoats were viewed anthropomorphically as animals with families, which held rituals for their dead. They were also viewed as noxious animals prone to thieving, and their saliva was said to be able to poison a grown man. To encounter a stoat when setting out for a journey was considered bad luck, but one could avert this by greeting the stoat as a neighbour.

References[edit]

Stoat skins are prized by the fur trade, especially in winter coat, and used to trim coats and stoles. The fur from the winter coat is referred to as ermine and is the traditional ancient symbol of the Duchy of Brittany, forming the earliest flag of that nation. There is also a design called ermine inspired by the winter coat of the stoat and painted onto other furs, such as rabbit.Ermine (bothThe stoat was a fundamental item in the fur trade of the Soviet Union, with no less than half the global catch coming from within its borders. The Soviet Union also contained the highest grades of stoat pelts, with the best grade North American pelts being comparable only to the 9th grade in the quality criteria of former Soviet stoat standards. Stoat harvesting never became a specialty in any Soviet republic, with most stoats being captured incidentally in traps or near villages. Stoats in the Soviet Union were captured either with dogs or with box-traps or jaw-traps. Guns were rarely used, as they could damage the pelt.

Bibliography[edit]

Stoat and weasel guide: how to identify, habitat, diet and best places to spot

Found in the UK, stoats and weasels are both small, brown, fast and ferocious mustelids with sinuous bodies and short legs. Learn how to identity each species, habitat, diet and the best places to spot in the British countryside.Stoats and weasels aren’t unusual in the British countryside, but you don’t get to see them very often. And when you do, it’s often not much more than a quick flash as they streak through the grass in front of you. The differences between stoats and weasels aren’t huge, but when you know what to look out for, it’s not too hard to know whether you’re watching a stoat or a weasel.

Here is our expert guide to stoats and weasels, including how to identify, habitat, diet and the best places to spot in the UK.

What is a mustelid?

Stoats and weasels are mustelids which are a family of carnivorous mammals. In the UK, there are seven mustelid species found in the wild, including stoat, weasel, badger, pine marten, American mink, polecat and otter. Each species varies widely in looks and behaviour, but generally speaking mustelids are long-bodied, short-legged, thickly furred and tend to be active at night, which makes them elusive. Stoats and weasels are two of the most similar mustelid species and can be tricky to identify when you only catch a brief glimpse.

Where to see stoats

When is the best time of year to look for stoats?

After the vegetation dies back in November is a good time to look out for stoats in the UK.

Does stoats coat turn white in winter?

Yes. White forms are common in northern Britain, but rare in the south. The tail tip stays black and they moult into their winter coats in winter, so in northern areas many will already be white, making them conspicuous in snow-free areas.

What do stoat droppings look like?

Scats are long and slender, measuring up to 8cm long.

How to identify animal droppings

Droppings or scats can tell us a lot about which animals have been visiting our gardens, parks and countryside, including hedgehogs, foxes and badgers. Our expert guide to animal droppings or scats explains how to identify which animal species it comes from and what information it contains about the health of the animal.

What do stoats eat?

Stoats are fierce predators and eat 25 per cent of their body weight a day, so they spend a lot of time hunting. Stoats eat mainly rabbits; as a result, stoat numbers decline when rabbits are scarce.

How do stoats hunt?

Stoats hunt small mammals opportunistically, moving rapidly and investigating all possible hiding places, says Steve Harris. Speed enables them to take prey by surprise (and makes it hard for bigger predators and birds of prey to catch them).The senses of smell and hearing are most important when hunting in dense cover. Once located, their victims are generally caught in a couple of bounds; stoats may wrap their bodies around large mice or small rats to subdue them.Despite being much larger than stoats, rabbits are hunted, too. The average rabbit is several times the weight of a stoat and dangerous to tackle. Stoats approach rabbits cautiously, stopping and standing up on their hind legs to judge distances.They use cover to get close and judge their final dash carefully to ensure that they maximise the surprise to the rabbit and minimise the chance of injury to themselves.Once they have made a kill, stoats quickly drag larger prey into cover to avoid attracting the attention of other predators. The remains of the carcass will be cached for future use, either under dense vegetation or loosely buried under a log or rock.

Where to see weasels

Does weasel fur turn white in winter?

A weasel’s coat doesn’t change colour in Britain, as it remains a rich, tawny brown all year. In Europe, some do turn white.

How to identify weasel droppings

Scats similar in shape to stoat’s but smaller – up to 5cm long.

How to identify animal holes

In winter the vegetation dies back, making it easier to spot mammal holes and burrows. But do you know which holes belong to which animal? Learn how to identify animal habitats with our guide to the common animal holes and burrows found in the British wintertime.

What do weasels eat?

Weasels eat mainly voles and mice, some of which may be caught in their burrows.

What’s the world’s smallest carnivore?

And of course, based on all the known evidence, if you see a small predator riding a woodpecker, it’s probably going to be a weasel…

Visual Differences

While both stoats and ferrets have the characteristic short legs, thick coats, elongated bodies, and short, rounded ears typical of the Mustelid family, upon closer inspection, the two are fairly simple to tell apart. For one thing, the ferret is far longer than the stoat and almost twice as large and has a characteristic black mask, black feet, and black-tipped tail. The ferret’s tail is also shorter than the stoat’s in comparison to its body.

Ferret Overview