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Home The Area Natural History Mammals Weasels and Stoats

Weasels and Stoats

The stoat is a slender, long-bodied animal with a black tipped tail. They are 18 - 30cm. long and the tail is 6 - 12cm. long. Males are larger than females. Stoats and weasels do not usually occupy the same areas but, where they do co-exist, stoats tend to be the larger.

The coat is reddish-brown on the back with pale under parts. Stoats that live in northern areas turn pure white in the winter, except for the tip of the tail, which remains black. The fur is then called ermine and used to be highly prized for trimming ceremonial robes. The male is called the dog, the female is a bitch and the young are kittens.

A weasel is like a small stoat, with a shorter tail without the black tip. The males are much larger than the females. The head and body of a male is about 20cm. and a female measures about 18cm. Weasels do not turn white in winter in Britain. Its distribution is similar to that of stoats.

They are hunters (carnivores) and prey on birds, reptiles, and small mammals especially voles, hares and rabbits. A stoat kills by biting through the back of the skull. Both animals will take eggs of chickens and game birds, making them an enemy of farmers and gamekeepers.

Stoats raise one litter a year in early spring while the weasel raises a second in the late summer.


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