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5 Fascinating Facts About Weasels & Stoats

Although they are very common animals, not much is known about weasels. I built habitats in my garden so that I could study them for my paintings, following their every move via wildlife cameras. Members of the mustelid family, the same animal family as stoats, wolverines and badgers, I discovered some fascinating facts about these secretive creatures.

For US readers: In my blogs, a weasel refers to your ‘least weasel’ and stoat is your ‘short-tailed weasel’. For more on ID and definitions:  CLICK HERE

1. Weasels & Stoats Are Good Swimmers

They love water. In fact, they can swim and dive underwater like mini otters from a very young age.

artist wild about stoats
Testing the water, stoats can swim like mini-otters
2. Weasels & Stoats Are Excellent Climbers

Weasels and stoats are surprisingly arboreal – they can climb trees as well as any squirrel and will even raid birds nests high in the canopy. 


3. Weasels Are Animal Escape Artists
These animals have developed fascinating adaptations to help them hunt. They have long whiskers on the elbows of their front legs. These are highly sensitive and help them to grasp prey. They also help them manoeuvre through tiny spaces. And there are even a few whiskers on their tails to help them reverse out of tight burrows, feeling their way backwards. No wonder people who slip out of situations are described as ‘weasels’.


4. Weasels Are Clever
In fact they are not just clever, they are highly intelligent! If you look at the size of a weasel skull you can see that the area given over to its brain is huge! Watch this weasel as takes minutes to complete an assault course. 

5. Weasels Are Fearless

One of the most captivating images in wildlife photography featured a weasel riding on the back of a woodpecker in flight. They are utterly fearless. And when you take into account their size, they have to be to survive. Female weasels are small enough to slip through a wedding ring. Their tenacity is awesome. Gram for gram, weasels are actually stronger than lions! Below is a stoat, equally tenacious, eyeing up a kestrel. 

kestrel and stoat stand off



4 comments on 5 Fascinating Facts About Weasels & Stoats

  1. Since I was fortunate enough to find your site I have been given looks into a world that I only could dream about. Thank you so much.

  2. Great insight, as usual, into the life of these wonderful creatures. Following your appearance on BBC this morning, I’m very eagerly looking forward to your “Weasels: feisty and Fearless” on BBC2 tomorrow (Friday 25.10 at 8pm).

  3. Fantastic programme. Brilliant to learn so much and enjoy seeing these amazingly clever creatures. Just reminds you what fantastic wildlife we have right on our doorstep if we just stop to look and listen.

  4. I knew weasels were small, but never knew they could go through a wedding ring. Amazing. Thank you Robert for always an interesting blog.

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