Stoat

Alert

Have you seen Stoat?

Be on the lookout for Stoat and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling Stoat.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to Asia, arctic Europe and North America, stoats are small carnivorous mammals with slender bodies. They are a major pest in New Zealand, where they have contributed to the decline of many native bird species.

Stoats are not currently found in Australia, but would be well suited to cooler, upland areas of Queensland if released here. Wild populations of stoats could prey on native wildlife.

Stoats are listed as one of the 100 worst invasive alien species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The stoat is a prohibited invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Mustela erminea

Other names

  • Ermine, short-tailed weasel, ermelin

Similar species

  • Long-tailed weasel

Description

  • Small carnivorous mammal, similar to ferret, body 170-330mm long, tail 42-120mm long.
  • Body is slender.
  • Males are usually twice the size of females, weight 67-166g, females 25-80g.
  • Legs are short.
  • Face is pointed.
  • Claws are sharp, non-retractable.
  • Ears are short, rounded, set almost flat into fur.

Habitat

  • Habitat generalists found wherever suitable prey is available (forest edges, scrub, alpine meadows, riparian woodlands, hedgerows, riverbanks, tundra, agricultural areas, coastland, wetlands, grasslands, disturbed areas, suburban gardens).

Distribution

  • Currently absent from Queensland and Australia.

Life cycle

  • Life expectancy 2-3 years in wild, up to 12.5 years in captivity.
  • Females reach sexual maturity at 95 days, males at 1 year.
  • Breeding occurs once per year.
  • Gestation period is 43 days.
  • Females bear 6-7 per litter.

Affected animals

  • Native birds
  • small mammals

Impacts

Environmental

  • Could eat native wildlife, especially birds and small mammals.

Natural enemies

  • Wolves, foxes, domestic cats, badgers, birds of prey.

Control

  • Call 13 25 23 if you find an animal you suspect may be a stoat to seek advice on control options.

Legal requirements

  • Stoat is a prohibited invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be kept, moved, fed, given away or sold without a permit.
  • The Act requires that all sightings to be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of Stoat escaping until they receive advice from an authorised officer.

Further information