Thursday, 12 April 2012

The stoat seen here is in it's summer coat, in the northern part of their range they are known as ermine and have a dense, white coat during winter- once worn by members of the House of Lords, though they now wear rabbit fur.

One of my best unexpected encounters of the year today, I was taking a short break from revision to sit on a gatepost and scan the fields for buzzards (as you do), when I spotted this stoat run across the lane and disappear into the hedgerow, only to reappear a few minutes later only 2 metres from where I was standing.
   Unfortunately as soon as he saw me he dived back into the hedge so I was unable to get a good photograph.
     Stoats can be distinguished from there close relative the weasel by there larger size (approx. 10 inches) and black tipped tale.
     They are particularly active at this time of the year because of the abundance of their favourite prey: baby rabbits. Stoats where once thought to hypnotises there prey with a dance, but it is now thought there jerky leaps may be caused by an infection of Skrjabingylus (roundworm).
    Although native to britain stoats are listed as one of the "worst 100 invasive species", they have been particularly destructive in New Zealand, feeding on the eggs, chicks and adults of  endangered birds such as the kiwi.

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