MEET THE MODEL – STAN THE STOAT
by Graham Stewart
Stan the Stoat aka Mustela erminea
Until recently I have only ever caught occasional, brief glimpses of stoats, never enough of one to actually catch it on camera. However, of late I have been lucky enough to see many more. I cant be sure if this is just pure luck, the fact that people are not going out as much due to lockdown or simply that as I have had way more extra time that I have walked the dog far more than usual. Who knows but I am certainly not complaining!
A Stoat is a mustelid and is related to both the Weasel and Otter. It has chestnut upper parts and a white underside. It is distinguishable from the Weasel as it is larger and has a black tip on its tail. During the colder winter months its coat can become all white with the exception of its tail (where it gets the ermine part of its name)
The Stoat is a sleek and very agile predator and will take on prey larger than itself. Diet consists of rabbits, rodents, hares and birds which it kills with a bite to the base of skull/back of neck.
Stoats will mate in early summer but the pregnancy itself is delayed for around 9 months and a litter of 6-12 kits are born around 4 weeks later. Kits are born deaf, blind and almost furless and are fed by the female for 12 weeks, during which time they learn to become hunters.
Body length 18-32cm
Weight up to 450g (males are larger)
Habitat found throughout UK and parts of Europe