The stoat is a small skillful hunter. Stoats are able to take full sized rabbits, hens and ducks. They will also take smaller mammals, including mice, but they also eat birds’ eggs. They are predators of poultry, and can be ruthless, often killing a bird and taking it straight away. They have a high metabolic rate and this means that these are aggressive little animals and are almost constantly hunting.
The stoat is also good climbers and can present many problems as they are able to go through small gaps and as well. Stoats are very long and slim and, as such, can gain access through the smallest of gaps..
They will also quickly exploit any rat holes around your hens. Filling these in will block off this option for them. Making sure your mesh is no larger than half inch by one inch also helps.
Organising the trap:
Break a hen’s egg and mix up the yolk and whites. Smear a little of the mix to make a scent trail towards the tunnel entrance.
Use a double entry mesh tunnel with one entry closed off. Place a hen’s egg or a small piece of meat in the tunnel at the furthest end from the remaining entry hole. Once the stoat is near the trap it can smell the bait inside. In order to reach the bait the stoat must step on the treadle which triggers the trap.
After all that, set the trap and make sure the safety catch is placed correctly to stop the trap firing if it dislodged. Holding the trap in a horizontal position, place it in the tunnel through the side door. Only when it is correctly positioned then flick the safety catch off with a small stick.
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Stoats are small mammals that are close relatives of weasels. The scientific name of a stoat is Mustela erminea. They range from 17 to 35 cms (6.7 to 13.8 inches) in length, and generally weigh between 180 to 258 grams (6.3 to 9.1 ounces).
The stoat is one of the few mammals to change its colour in winter. In northern lands.In summer it has a brown back and creamy white belly. In winter this becomes all white. The only part that does not change is the tip of the tail which remains black all year round. As you would expect, the winter coat is thicker and warmer.
The winter coat of stoats (called ermine) has been historically used by humans for winter clothing purposes, and commonly for ornamental reasons, especially by nobility. Hence the expression taking ermine when one becomes a lord.
Stoats are territorial and occupy multiple dens, that are often the original home of past prey and these can be hollows, nests, burrows or other small sheltered areas.
The female gives birth to between 5 and 15 young at one time, and they usually have only one litter during their life, which is an average of 4 to 6 years.