Country Corner

A stoat

A stoat

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I have shown you stoat photographs a few times, but, as we have not long discussed weasels, this is a good time to help out those folk who have difficulty telling these two mustelids apart.

Of course, the first thing to catch your eye in this picture is the stoat’s long, black tipped tail.

Or at least it is often described as black tipped.

In truth at least half of a stoat’s tail is black, not just the tip.

Also stoats are almost twice the size of weasels.

I often say it is similar to the size difference between rabbits and hares, but I realise that doesn’t mean much to many folk these days!

The gait of the two differs as well. Stoats possessing a loping, caterpillar or greyhound arching motion, while weasels tend to run flat and straight, with only their legs whirring beneath them.

(Notice I am resisting saying one is stoatally different and the other is weaselly recognised!)

Talking very generally, weasels are vole and mouse specialists while stoats are more suited to rabbit prey.

However, the truth is either one will tackle whatever it feels it has a chance of mastering.

This is true of all predators.

It may also surprise you to be told the diminutive weasel, and the stoat for that matter, are cousins of the otter, pine martin and badger.

Also the stoat is the nearest thing we have in this country to the celebrity status meerkat!

No many peoples know this I think!