The stoat is about 12 inches long and is light brown with black tips on their tails. They are quite widely distributed, all over the United Kingdom and Much of Northern Europe. Stoats do not populate North America.
They are carnivores, existing on small rabbits, eggs, birds, voles, mice, chickens and essentially, anything they can get their paws on. Being somewhat less than discriminatory in their eating habits.
A Stoat, one of the more prolific animals in the UK
Stoats have one litter of infants per year, usually in the spring time, but the breeding actually takes place in the early summer of the previous year.
The stoat female is able to keep the fertilized egg implanted but not active until they permit it to gestate almost a year later.
They will then after 30 days gestation, produce a litter of between six and twelve babies, which are called kits.
The kits are nursed by their parents til they are about two months old and are able to fend for themselves when they are about five weeks old. Interestingly, Kits are very adapt hunters when they reach 4-6 weeks of age.
Stoats do not hibernate during the winter time, instead they prefer stay inside on the colder days. They often turn completely white in the winter time.
A stoat will be mature and ready to mate at about one year and in the wild can live to be up to about ten years old, while a weasel, the cousin which the stoat is often confused with, will live only about three years.
a Stoat in Cheshire
The stoat is in no real danger of extinction in the UK, they are however threatened by hunting, habitat loss, poisoning and often get run over on the country roads.
They do tend to live around farms as the hedgerow habitat and plentiful food supply suits them.
They are particularly good at stealing eggs, such as chicken and game bird eggs, which causes them no small amount of conflict with the farmers.