Stoat (Muscalis erminae stabilis)

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SizeDimensions 18 - 30cm. long and the tail is 6 - 12cm. long. Males are larger than females.

Identification and Features Stoat have a black tipped tail. and is a slender, long-bodied animal .The fur is reddish-brown on the back with pale underparts. Stoats in Northern latitudes 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. Males are called Dogs, Females - Bitches and the young are Kittens.Stoats and weasels do not usually occupy the same Territories , but, where they do coexist, stoats tend to be the larger.Stoats are more active at night but can be seen during daylight .

Habitat Stoats are often found close to human habitation. They are very curious and will explore burrows and buildings. If you startle one it will dive for cover in the nearest hedge or hole, but, if you stay still and quiet, it will soon come out again for a better look at you. They prefer open low country and can be found round hedgerows, paths, walls, ditches and copses, in fact anywhere with good hiding places. They tend to wander over a large area, but usually settle close to a good food supply. This is the reason they are often seen near farm buildings.

Diet Stoats are carnivorous preying on birds, reptiles, and small mammals such as voles, hares and rabbits. A stoat kills by biting through the back of the skull. Stoats also take eggs of chickens and game birds.

Breeding Nests for breeding can be a hole in a dry stone wall, under a hedgerow or in a dry ditch. Less often a stoat will kill rabbits in a warren and confiscate it as a den. Stoats only raise one litter a year, in the late spring. The number of kittens will vary with the food supply. The kittens are suckled and are weaned after 5 weeks. The parents then teach them to hunt for themselves.

Conservation Stoats are found throughout Britain although in declining numbers . Game keepers will eradicate Stoat as they will prey on eggs and fledglings of game bird Eg; partridge and pheasant. , Stoats breed rapidly and become locally very common in habitats where they are not checked or there is a good food supply