State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Mustela erminea (Linnaeus, 1758)

Vernacular Name
Stoat, Ermine, Short-tailed Weasel
Conservation status
Be (III); RDBUkr: Неоцінені
Value of species
Game (hunting) species
Mustela erminea aestiva Kerr, 1792 Mustela erminea erminea Linnaeus, 1758 Mustela erminea hibernica (Thomas & Barrett-Hamilton, 1895) Mustela erminea minima (Cavazza, 1912) The Stoat has a circumboreal range across North America, Europe and Asia, from Greenland and the Canadian and Siberian Arctic islands south - with much variation - to about 35°N (King 1983, Fagerstone 1987). In North America, it is found throughout Alaska and Canada south through most of the northern United States to central California, northern Arizona (Berna 1991), northern New Mexico, Iowa, the Great Lakes region, Pennsylvania, and northern Virginia (Fagerstone 1987). In Europe, it is present as far south as 41°N in Portugal (Santos Reis 1983), and is found on most islands with the exception of Iceland, Svalbard, some small North Atlantic islands, and the Mediterranean islands. In mainland Asia, it occurs south in China to Heilongjiang, Nei Mongol, Jilin, Liaoning and southern Xinjiang provinces (Wang 2003). It has a restricted distribution in the Himalaya, where it is confined to the west, in Ladakh (India), Pakistan and Afghanistan (Roberts 1977, Habibi 2003, Kotia et al. 2011). In Japan, it is present in the central mountains (northern and central Japan Alps) to northern parts of Honshu (primarily above 1,200 m) and Hokkaido (Abe et al. 2005). Lin and Harada (1998) indicated that they had discovered - but did not name - a new taxon of Mustela allied to M. erminea in Taiwan; however, this form is closer to (and probably within) Least Weasel M. nivalis (Abramov 2006). The Stoat has been introduced to New Zealand (King 1983). It occurs from sea level to at least 4,050 m (King 1983, Pulliainen 1999, Kotia et al. 2011). The Stoat's total adult population is evidently enormous, given its huge range in both Palaearctic and Nearctic. The density and structure of its populations are unstable, because of short life spans and high reproductive capacity. Populations are greatly influenced by fluctuations in prey supply, especially small mammals (King 1983, Pulliainen 1999). Population fluctuations of Stoat and its prey tend to be more marked at more northerly latitudes (Pulliainen 1999), although fluctuations are also present in Spain (Blanco 1998, Palomo and Gisbert 2002). The Stoat occupies a wide range of habitats. It is often found in successional or forest-edge habitats, in scrub, alpine meadows, marshes, riparian woodlands, hedgerows, and riverbanks that have high densities of small mammals, especially Microtus and Arvicola voles (King 1983). Pulliainen (1999) stated that coniferous and mixed woodlands are preferred, but that many other habitats are used including tundra and the summits of fells and mountains. Dense forests and deserts are avoided (King 1983). Specifically in Mongolia, it inhabits taiga, forest-steppe and rocky parts of the semi-desert. It is a specialist predator of small mammals, but will occasionally feed on fruit, earthworms, insects, eggs, and birds (King 1983). Its local distribution is typically related to that of small rodents and lagomorphs (King 1983, Pulliainen 1999). It is active day and night (King 1983). Estimates for home range size range from 4 to 200 ha for males, most often falling between 10 and 40 ha (King 1983).
Book reference
  • Котенко Т.И., Ардамацкая Т.Б., Дубина Д.В. и др. Биоразнообразие Джарылгача: современное состояние и пути сохранения // Вісник зоології. – 2000. – Спец. випуск. – 240 с.
  • Літопис природи. Природний заповідник «Медобори». 2018, т.26. – Гримайлів, 2019. – 509 с.
  • Селюніна З.В. Зміни складу теріофауни регіону Чорноморського заповідника в результаті інвазії видів (історія вивчення ссавців та господарського освоєння) // Праці Теріологічної Школи. - 2014. - Т.12. - С.69-80.
  • Татаринов К. А. Звірі західних областей України (матеріали до вивчення фауни Української РСР). - Київ: Вид-во АН УРСР, 1956. - 188 с.

Taxonomic branch