Posted 3rd Nov 2017
Image courtesy of Rachel Scopes
The stoat is a common but potentially declining predator, which is small in stature
Their long, low-slung body makes them particularly well adapted for hunting rats and rabbits – they can easily kill adult rabbits that are much larger than them with a bite to the base of skull. Active both during the day and at night, stoats will be easy to spot in open habitats, such as sand dunes, grassland and heathland.
Mating in the summer, stoats manage to delay implantation of the fertilised egg until the spring of the following year – they will then have a litter of six to twelve kits a year.
Easy to identify with their orangey-brown back and a creamy white throat and belly, stoats are larger than weasels and have a longer tail with a black tip. They move with a distinctive gait and arched back, whereas weasels will run close to the ground.
They're not considered to be particularly rare - you will be able to see them across the country except in some Scottish Islands, the Isles of Scilly and most of the Channel Islands.
However, their habitats are declining, as grasslands, heathlands and woodlands are all under threat. This has led the Wildlife Trusts to encourage farmers, landowners and gardeners alike to have a wildlife-friendly approach, and are looking to achieve a Living Landscape. This would see a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across the country, which would be good for wildlife and people.
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts