The Stoat (Mustela erminea) is a carnivorous mammal in the Mustelidae family. It is a mustelid. It is also known as the Short-Tailed Weasel.
The Stoat has an elongated body and neck, with short, rounded ears, and short legs. It has a long tail with a black tip. Its eyes are round, black, and slightly protruded. Its whiskers are long and white or brown. Each foot has five toes with retractable claws.
In winter, it has a coat of pure white silky fur, called ermine. In summer, its fur is coarse and sandy-brown on the back with a white underbelly.
It grows to 19-33 centimetres (7-13 inches) in length. Its tail measures 7-10 centimetres (3-4 inches) long.
The Stoat is native to Eurasia and North America.
It is carnivorous, eating mice and rats, as well as voles, birds, fish, and lizards.
The male is called a dog, hob, or jack. The female is called a jill. A group of Stoats is called a gang or a pack.
The Stoat lives in a burrow, called a den, with several entrances. It does not dig its own burrow; instead, it uses the empty burrows of other animals. Sometimes, it lives in tree stumps.
The female is pregnant for about 280 days, before giving birth to 4-6 live young, called kits. The kits are born altricial, which means that they are born blind, deaf, toothless, and covered with white or pinkish down-fur. Their eyes open after 5-6 weeks. Only the mother looks after the kits.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM