Species of the month: October - Stoat

Let us know if you've seen some on our form below


Scientific Name: Mustella erminea

Identification: The stoat is related to the weasel and otter which are all in the mustelid family. The stoat has an orangey-brown back, a creamy white throat and belly, and a black-tipped tail. It closely resembles the weasel however stoats have a  longer tail and a distinctive bounding gait, arching its back as it moves; Weasels do not bound, but run close to the ground.

Diet: Rabbits are their favourite prey as well as other small mammals such as mice which are killed with a single bit to the back of the neck. They will also eat birds, eggs, fruit and even earthworms when food is scarce.

Behaviour: Stoats prefer to hunt along linear features such as ditches, hedgerows and walls – they do not like to be out in the open so meadows and marshes which offer cover are ideal. They run in a zig-zag pattern searching areas methodically. Male and female stoats live separately, marking their territories with scent. They defend their territory against intruders of the same sex, however, in spring the males’ territory expands as they range widely in search of females.


  • In the winter, stoats living in colder climes may turn almost completely white, with just a black tip to the tail, this is known as 'Ermine'. Stoats in warmer parts of the UK may not change colour at all or may take on a 'patchy' appearance.

  • Stoats can take prey 5 times their size!

Where can they be found?:

Stoats are widespread and can be found in many different habitats including: urban and gardens, woodlands, heathland, farmland and grassland. You may be lucky to see one (if you’re patient) at a number of our reserves including:

Wildife Gardening Tips:

  • If you are lucky enough to have the room then planting a hedgerow or seeding a large meadow patch will help stoats navigate through the landscape undercover.

  • Log piles are great for small mammals - one of their prey items!

  • Having gently sloping sides on your pond will allow stoats to drink safely from it. Alternatively, you can put down dishes of water for mammals.

  • Leave gaps in your fence or walls to allow stoats to move between gardens.

Let us know if you've seen a Stoat below...

Your Stoat details
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