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Stoat

LIVING HABITS

The stoat lives in a multitude of different environments, wherever its main food source, small rodents, are available. In Finland stoats can be found throughout the country. The stoat does not avoid human habitation and may hunt for voles in barns and outbuildings. The usually solitary stoat can be active at any time of the day. The stoat preys mainly small rodents, but also eats birds’ eggs, little birds, frogs, lizards, even insects and berries. Stoats store their surplus prey for a rainy day.

PROTECTION

The stoat is a game animal. In the earlier days the stoat was hunted for its beautiful fur. Nowadays there isn’t much demand for stoat fur, yet stoats are hunted in abundance, about 2000–3000 individuals annually. Farmers and forest owners would benefit from stoats living on their land, as stoats control the destructive vole population.

ADAPTING TO WINTER

The northern stoat sheds its brown summer fur on its back in the fall for a white winter fur. Only the tip of its tail remains always black. At the same time the papillae on the pads of their paws grow thicker. The white stoat is not only well hidden from its predators on snowy ground, but stays out of sight from birds of prey prowling up in the air. The far smaller female stoat can easily stay out of sight by entering snow tunnels dug up by small rodents.

Stoat

Mustela erminea

Class: Mammalia – Mammals

Order: Carnivora- Carnivores

Family: Mustelidae – Mustelids

Size: Weight: 90-450g, length: 16-29cm + the length of tail 7-12cm, males much larger than females.

Breeding: Heat: mostly in mid-summer, sometimes also in the autumn or even in the winter. Delayed fetogenesis; the embryo develops first a month before the litter is born in May-June; offspring 3-8 at a time. Independent in their first autumn, females reache sexual maturity in their first summer, male in 10-12 months.

Lifespan: 4-7 years

Did you know…

Did you know that the stoat has a delayed fetogenesis? After the coupling of the male and female, the egg cell, having completed fertilization, remains floating in the uterus of the female, and the embryonic development begins first the following spring. In the litter nest, the male stoat may couple with young female stoats, which in turn will bring forth their own litter the next spring.