Mustela erminea


The Stoat is a small predator; their long, low-slung body makes them particularly well adapted for hunting rats and rabbits. They easily kill adult rabbits that are much larger than them with a bite to the base of the skull. Stoats are active by day and at night and are easiest to spot in open habitats, such as sand dunes, grassland and heathland. Stoats mate in summer but delay implantation of the fertilised egg until the spring of the following year. They have one litter of six to twelve kits a year.

How to identify

Orangey-brown back with a creamy white throat and belly. Stoats are larger than weasels and have a longer tail with a black tip. Stoats move with a distinctive bounding gait and arched back, whereas weasels run close to the ground.

Where to find it

Widespread, found throughout the country except some Scottish Islands, the Isles of Scilly and most of the Channel Islands.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Stoats are not considered to be rare in the UK, but the habitats that they favour are declining - our grasslands, heathlands and woodlands are all under threat. Encouraging farmers, landowners and gardeners alike to have a wildlife-friendly approach, The Wildlife Trusts are working towards a Living Landscape: a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Mustela erminea
Length: up to 32cm plus a tail of 14cm Weight: 450g Average lifespan: up to 10 years
Conservation status
Common but may be declining.