Stoat – Boldness

Stoat illustrated by Ravenari


Boldness, rapidity, moving quickly through life, endlessly searching, maintaining your weight and figure, seeking purity of spirit, good luck and bad luck, the concept of family and neighbourhood, maintaining integrity and a good conscience, leaps in intellect, covering every corner, brainstorming, quickness, responding to social hierarchies, mythology and folklore, do not let small things escape your notice, details will be important, give yourself multiple places to rest and recharge.

General Description:

The stoat (ermine, short-tailed weasel) is a small weasel with a circumboreal range, found in Eurasia and North America. In New Zealand, their population is feral and dangerous for native bird populations. They are primarily found in moors, woodlands, open forests, agricultural areas and marshlands. They are one of the world’s most invasive species. Their fur colour is variable from Winter to Summer, with the Winter coat being white with a distinctive black tail-tip, that was desirable as fur. They have multiple scent glands, the anal glands capable of excreting a strong, musky scent. They are opportunistic predators, and obligate carnivores, relying on rapid zigzag movements and endless searching to locate food. They are good at climbing, and raid nest boxes, they are also good at swimming. They have very keen senses. They primarily eat rodents and rabbits, also taking birds, fish, shrews, amphibians, reptiles and insects. They will take domestic chickens, when they can get them. The stoat lives in the burrows of the rodents it kills, and uses the fur of their prey to line their nesting chambers. Their burrows tend to have multiple chambers or ‘galleries.’ They will engage in surplus killing when possible, and cache food in order to maintain their weight, which – when too heavy – can affect their hunting ability.

They are mostly nocturnal. They are not monogamous, and some litters have mixed paternity. Males do not help rear the young. Males and females are territorial. Males have larger territories that overlap several smaller female territories. Males will roam during breeding season. Their populations are determined by prey abundance. They have many ways of expressing their aggression towards each other, from ritual postures, to stealing another’s kill to indicate dominance. Submissive stoats will avoid the more dominant stoats. Many are parasitised by a nematode that perforates the skull and puts pressure on the brain, causing death. They are predated upon by raptors and other carnivores. In the wild, their average lifespan is 1.5 years. They communicate via trilling, whining, chirping, squeaking, hissing and screeching when aggressive. In Irish mythology they were considered animals that held rituals for the dead. Encountering them was considered bad luck unless you greeted them as a friend. The Komi believes they are beautiful young women. Zoroastrians considered them sacred and pure in their winter coat.