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Estonian text posted 26.12.2019
Stoat or ermine Kärp Mustela erminea
Least weasel Nirk Mustela nivalis
Wearing ermine fur, the former symbol of royalty, wealth and vanity, is fortunately for the little animal today no longer considered to be ”good taste” in society .
We have to do with the smallest European predators, the penultimate and the smallest one.
A distinctive identification feature of an ermine or stoat in its white winter fur is the black tip of the tail that makes up about one third of the body length which is not always noticeable on meeting it in nature. The same is true for the size differences of the respective species because female ermines may be smaller than a male least weasel. Both have slender and long bodies with short feet. The solitarily living and strongly territorial predators are active around the clock but the very visible fur coat in a snowless winter complicates their life because they have enemies among larger predators as well as among birds of prey.
In the old days a least weasel that had moved to live in farm buildings was considered as a ”lucky animal”, after all it helped to destroy rodents in the household, but similar habitats are also favoured by stoats. The slightly larger ermine can also be encountered in forest landscapes where they are fearless hunters who attack prey several times their own size. Generally both species in winter feed on small rodents whom the slender predators can chase in their passages and burrows..
The weights of ermines and weasels are in the interval of 100 up to
The first heat period of ermines starts already in February, in May there is reason to discuss the periods of heat and the differences between the species more in detail .
Ermine or stoat