Stoat and least weasel

The stoat has a black-tipped tail

A stoat in its winter coat © Antti Koli

Stoats (Mustela erminea) can occasionally be seen scurrying along the duckboards leading to Lammassaari island. The duckboards are an ideal hunting ground for them; a runway that they can scour from top to bottom and from where they can quickly slip into the reeds.

The stoat’s diet consists primarily of small mammals, and the reed beds hide plenty of harvest mice, Eurasian pygmy shrews and common shrews. Stoats will also eat bird chicks, frogs, viviparous lizards and insects.

The least weasel (Mustela nivalis) is smaller than the stoat, about the size of a yellow-necked mouse, and doesn’t have a black-tipped tail. The populations of both of these small predators vary depending on the size of the local mole population.

Lumikko kesäpuvussa, kuva Eero Haapanen.

A least weasel in its summer coat, photo Eero Haapanen.

Talviasuinen lumikko saaliinaan metsämyyrä, kuva Antti Koli.

A least weasel in its winter coat, having caught a bank vole, photo Antti Koli.

Kärppä talviasussa

A stoat in its winter coat, photo Eero Haapanen.