Short-Tailed-Weasel facts (Mustela erminea) aka Stoat



Short-Tailed Weasel (Stoat)
Mustela erminea

Known as short-tailed weasel, ermine, and stoat, the Mustela erminea can leap repeatedly three times their length. Breed in early to mid-summer; 1 litter of 6–7 young per year.

The stoat (Mustela erminea) has the typical mustelid shape: a long thin body, a smooth, pointed head, short legs, and five toes on each foot, furred between the pads. The claws are sharp and non-retractile. The ears are short, rounded, and set almost flat into the fur. The eyes are round, black and slightly protruding; the whiskers are very long, and the muzzle is black and dog-like. The body fur is short, normally chestnut brown on the head and back, and white or cream (sometimes shading to yellow or even to apricot) on the underside. The tail is much longer than the extended hind legs, and always tipped with a conspicuous tuft of long black hair, which may be bristled out into a ‘bottlebrush’ at moments of great excitement. Males tend to be about 40 percent larger than females.

According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).
According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).

Fur is light brown above and white below in summer; all white in winter except for tail, which is black-tipped all year.

8-13 inches (0.2-0.3 m)

Up to 1 pound (0.45 kg)

Individuals that survive live on average to 2-3 years in the wild. Though litters have 10-13 pups, juvenile mortality is very high so on average most stoats do not survive beyond more than a few months, but the few that do can live as long as 7 years, but average 2-3 years of living.

Least concern

Stoats (Mustela erminea) are found anywhere they can find prey from beaches to above the treeline. They are found in all types of forest, grassland, agricultural land, dunes, scrubland and tundra. They are vulnerable to predation from other mammals and raptors so they tend to stick to cover in open country. In alpine areas stoats may spend most of their time in runs and burrows below the snow, this helps provide insulation against extremes in air temperature. Stoats do not avoid human settlements and can occasionally be seen in villages and suburban gardens.

Voles, shrews, deer mice, rabbits, rats, chipmunks, grasshoppers, and frogs. Will often move through and hunt in rodent burrows.

Stoats, like weasels, have a vivid green ‘eye-shine’ when caught in a spotlight. Prey is usually bloody and bitten around rear neck and back of skull (this can assist in distinguishing between mustelid and rodent prey). Smashed eggs and chewed bird bodies are more likely to be the work of rats. Mustelids will often feed on the warm blood of prey before actually consuming the prey. Stoats will often cache prey by dragging it under cover, so often no prey remains are visible.


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