Mammals in the Forest - stoat - The Heart of England Forest
A close relative of the weasel and otter, the stoat makes its home in the woodlands and grasslands in the Forest.

Photo credit – Mike Lane

  • Scientific Name: Mustela erminea
  • Description: A small brownish-ruddy coat with a white underside, and a black tipped tail. Close relative of the weasel and the otter
  • Size: Can weigh 140 – 450g and are between 24 – 32cm in length
  • Preferred habitats: Include woodland, grassland and moorland
  • Diet: Rabbits and smaller rodents
  • Lifespan: 2 – 5 years


Stoats mate in late Summer, but will give birth in the following Spring. A typical litter will have 6 – 12 kits.

Where do they live in the Forest?

In woodland and grassland, hunting for rabbits, small mammals and birds.

Natural predators

Hawks, owls and foxes, as well as occasionally domestic cats.

Spotting tips

Look for stoats hunting rabbits in open habitats such as grasslands, or crossing country lanes and roads.

Not to be confused with

Weasels. The easiest way to distinguish between a stoat and a weasel is the tail. Stoats have black tipped bushy tails, whereas weasels have sleeker all brown tails. They also move differently – stoats have a distinctive bounding gait, while weasels run close to the ground.

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

How you can help

You could become a Friend of the Forest and support our work creating and maintaining habitats for wildlife.

The Heart of England Forest