The stoat is sometimes mistaken for its close relative, the weasel, but it is larger and has a distinctive black tip to its tail.

Overview

Distribution: widespread throughout the British Isles. Also throughout the rest of northern Europe, the tundra and temperate forest regions of Asia and North America. Not found in any Mediterranean regions.

Habitat: woods, farmland, uplands, moorlands, marshes, sand dunes and hedgerows

Description: slim-bodied, with short, black-tipped tail. Chestnut brown on top with a sharp division separating the underparts. Coat turns pure white (except for black tip to tail) in cold northern regions.

Size: head and body, about 25cm, tail 76mm or more. Females may be 50% smaller than male. In North America they are quite a lot larger. Weight: 140 - 445g.

Life-span: average one to one and a half years. Can live up to 7 years.

Food: mainly rabbits and other small mammals. Also birds, eggs, earthworms, large insects and carrion.

The stoat is sometimes mistaken for its close relative, the weasel, but it is larger and has a distinctive black tip to its tail, whereas the weasel's tail is all brown. Stoats in the northern part of their range, such as the tundra and North America, turn white in the winter, except for the tip of the tail, which stays black. This provides good camouflage against their snowy background. When they are white, stoats are called ermine.

Read More: Territory

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