Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens
AG Säugetierkunde in NRW
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Hermelin (Großes Wiesel)
The Stoat displays the typical shape of a mustelid: an elongated body with proportionally short legs. The males are on average 30% heavier than the females. The tail is more than a third of the body lengthened always displays a black tip. In the summer the dorsal colouration of the animals is a chestnut to cinnamon brown. In winter the animals can change to white, whereby the tip of the tail remains black. This colour change is not mandatory; in warmer regions it can be omitted. During the moult (in autumn and in spring, for 2-4 weeks each) striped or dappled with individual white fur patches can be observed. Stoats can subdue prey animals up to the size of a European Rabbit. However, their main prey are voles like the Montane Water Vole or the Common Vole. Populations of the Stoat depend on good populations of their main prey animals. Without having actual numbers it must be assumed that Stoat populations are declining because food availability has declined due to the intensified agriculture.
On the basis of the topographic sheet quadrants it can be assumed that with good vole populations Stoat occurs area-wide in NRW. Distributional gaps are due to recording deficiencies. Just like its main prey species, the Stoat, has a high reproductive potential with 4 - 9 young per litter, in exceptional cases up to twelve. Observations suggest that the male participates in raising the young, but bring prey animals to the nest. Otherwise Stoats are solitary, which claim exclusive territories. Stoats are diurnal as well as nocturnal. The species avoids closed, large forest areas; they preferably occupy open landscape with small woodlands, hedges, meadows and bodies of water.
Meinig H (2023): Hermelin (Großes Wiesel) (Mustela erminea).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2023/03/27