Weasel

©Elliot Smith

Weasel

©Amy Lewis

Weasel

Scientific name: Mustela nivalis
The Weasel is a small Musetlid, so is related to the Stoat and Otter. It has a russet-brown body, short tail and running, almost scurrying, gait. Spot it on grassland, heaths and in woodlands across the UK.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 17-22cm
Tail: 3-5cm
Weight: 55-130g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

Our smallest carnivore, the Weasel looks like a mini version of the Stoat. Weasels are very active hunters, feeding on small mammals, such as voles and mice, as well as small birds. They are found in a variety of habitats, including woodland, grassland, hedgerows, heathland and moorland. They mate in spring and summer, and have two litters of three to six kits a year.

How to identify

The Weasel has a russet-brown back, and a creamy white throat and belly. It is smaller than the similar Stoat, has a shorter tail with no black tip, and has a running gait, with a straight back; Stoats bound along, arching their backs as they go.

Distribution

Widespread in England, Wales and Scotland, but absent from Northern Ireland and most islands.

Did you know?

Weasels are so small and agile that they fit into the burrows of their small rodent prey, enabling them to hunt day or night and in any season; they can even hunt in the snow!

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.