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Super Cute Stoats!

While walking the dog in Love's Copse yesterday I stumbled upon this adorable family of Stoats. The two kits were hiding in the hedgerow, nuzzling each other and calling to mum who appeared a few moments later bounding across a clearing showing off her long black-tipped bushy tail. This distinctive tail is the best way to distinguish stoats from their smaller relative the weasel which has a notably shorter tail which lacks a black tip. In the north of the country in winter stoats can moult into an fully white coat, except for the black tail-tip, called ermine.

Stoats hunt a variety of prey including rabbits, hares, rodents, moles and birds although females tend to focus on voles. They are active day and night all year round but are at their most visible at the moment while they look after their kits; they give birth to 5-12 kits in April-May in nests lined with fur, leaves and grass. The young are weaned by 7-12 weeks and are able to hunt for themselves by 10-12 weeks. I think they are simply brilliant!

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