Alert stoat on woodland floor (c) Judi Mahon


Stoats are completely white in winter, except for the black tips of their tails. Those that inhabit northern Britain are more likely to turn completely white than their southern counterparts.

Stoats are skilful predators, typically feeding on rabbits and small rodents. They hunt in a zigzag pattern, making use of features such as walls and hedgerows to provide cover, and to help them avoid detection by owls, larger carnivores and hawks.

With so many predators themselves, the average stoat lives a short life of just 1.5 years.

Scientific name: Mustela erminea

Rank: Species

Watch video clips from past programmes (10 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.

View all 10 video clips


Map showing the distribution of the Stoat taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Stoat can be found in a number of locations including: Arctic, Asia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Mediterranean, North America, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Stoat distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Stable

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

BBC News about Stoat

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.