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Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: June 18, 2018
Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

The stoat is of the mustelid family, larger than the least weasel and considered particularly aggressive. Stoats, however, weigh less than 260 grams (9 oz), which gives them impressive and dizzying agility and speed to add to their ferocity. In fact, stoats are capable of taking on and defeating prey twenty times heavier than them.

Stoats are distributed around the northern areas of the Eurasian and North American continents, living in steppes and wooded alpine areas of low altitudes. They are not threatened animals, but they have been hunted and farmed for their fur.

Are you wondering whether you can keep stoats as pets? In this AnimalWised article we'll go over their main characteristics, together with some guidelines and tips on caring for stoats, and you'll find out the answer.

You may also be interested in: Marmosets as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

Can you keep a stoats as pets?

If you're like us and you don't enjoy being bitten by rapid-moving flashes of fur, perhaps a pet stoat isn't the best option for you. You will probably love having a ferret as a pet, however, since they look quite similar to stoats but have been tamed by humans over the centuries.

Now, if you like living dangerously, you may consider adopting a stoat as a pet. Stoats are definitely not meant to share a home with a cat, a dog, a small pet or a child, but they are really beautiful.

Stoats are fierce carnivorous animals, specialized in biting the back of their prey's neck until they draw blood, regardless of whether it's a rabbit or an eagle. The stoat will cling to the back of the attacked animal, as the victim usually won't be able to reach them there no matter if they have paws, claws or wings. Eventually, the wound will widen until the blood flow is unstoppable.

Cats have a greater chance of survival than dogs against stoat attacks. Mustelids can't climb, and cats can often reach the back of their necks with their claws - something that dogs don't find as easy.

Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Can you keep a stoats as pets?

Adopting a stoat as a pet

We strongly advise against adopting stoats as pets; there aren't any stoat breeding centers that we're aware of - it is not uncommon to mix up mink farms with stoat farms, but minks are a different mustelid species. When you do find stoats up for sale, they are usually illegally captured wild specimens. If you buy one, you'll be promoting illegal and harmful wildlife trade.

However, it's not uncommon to find orphaned stoats. This happens when, for whatever reason, the baby stoat - which is a tiny creature - gets lost, or the mother dies. In these cases it is lawful to save the small one and adopt it, although the best option is undoubtedly to take them to a wildlife recovery centre.

Before picking up a young stoat, you need to wait for them to call their mother. If she doesn't appear after a fair while, you should take it upon yourself to save the life of the orphaned stoat.

Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Adopting a stoat as a pet

Raising a young stoat as a pet

The main priority will be feeding the kit milk for ferrets to hydrate and satiate them. If the stoat kit already has some teeth, you'll have to supplement their diet with tiny pieces of meat, whether slices of turkey or chicken.

An immature stoat will be able to become domesticated in a similar way a ferret. The young pet stoat should be taught to bite softly when playing, and to do their business in cat litter. It should be noted that the stoat is much more active than the ferret, so much more time should be devoted to playing with them.

Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Raising a young stoat as a pet

What does a stoat look like?

There are more than 30 subspecies of stoat, but by widely generalizing you could put them into two categories:

  • Cold climate stoats have two types of colorings, as they molt their fur. During the winter, cold-climate stoats turn completely snow-white, except for the tip of their tail, which remains black. When they are white, stoats are called ermines.

    During the summer, cold-climate stoats are a cinnamon color from head to tail, except for the black tip, and an ivory white in their underside.

  • Temperate climate stoats keep their summer coat all year round, and they never turn white. However, as is natural, their silky layer of fur becomes denser and warmer during the winter months.
Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - What does a stoat look like?

A pet stoat's diet

Wild stoats are essentially carnivorous, although they will consume berries every once in a while. Stoats prey on insects, small and large birds, rabbits, hares, rats and mice, frogs and, in short, any prey that crosses their path.

If you have a stoat as a pet, your vet will give you the guidelines for an adequate diet. It is very important to let a professional give you advice.

Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - A pet stoat's diet

Can a stoat live with other pets?

If you've had a pet stoat since they were very young it might be possible to get them to relate to a dog or a cat, although they will always be the boss.

However, you'll find it difficult to get a pet stoat to stop looking at your frightened parakeet or canary as prey, as their appetizing look will draw the preying stoat like a magnet. As we said, stoats can't climb, but they can jump very high and they are perfectly capable of catching birds.

If the stoat has been captured as an adult you will never manage to domesticate them, and they will become a very dangerous guest for you, your family members and your pets. Don't adopt them - stoats prefer to live in freedom!

Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Can a stoat live with other pets?

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7 comments
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Annette
We had a stoat 11 years in our kitchen, we adopt them when he was just 1-2 days old - 20gramms and blind for 10 days. At first: stoats can clim very very good! I think the best climbing-animal I saw in my life. And yes, it is difficulty to have a stoat as a pet. We never let it together with our cat, better for both. And yes, it is also not so nice for visitor which doesn´t like to get bite from a rappid fur flush : ) I could play with him very good ( the first year I played about an hour a day), I could touch him and he never bites me, but other people, they found it not so amuseing. And we tryed to teach him to do his business in a cat litter, we tryed, but often he did his business not in his place. But we had a very good time and we miss him.
Chris Wright
You may want to re-examine your comment about a Stoat attack on a cat or dog and the cat having a better chance of survival. Most dogs would be to big for a Stoat, and a cat stands no chance in that the Stoat is much much fasert and agile, and unbelievably vicious.
Rating:
Allen
Your advice seems sound and I would not have one as a pet. However, would like to have wild stoats on our wooded property. I saw one once (winter/white coat) and didn't see any ground squirrels for some time after. I like ground squirrels but there are so many of them and rabbits--they are out of balance. Anywhere I can get a breeding pair to let out in the woods? Or, would this be a bad idea?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Allen,

We can understand why it would be lovely to have new fauna introduced to your local area, observing happy animals in the wild is always a pleasure. However, we need to advise you against this for many reasons. Firstly, you cannot predict what will happen to a local ecosystem when you introduce a new animal to it. When an animal is introduced by local authorities it is researched as much as possible and considerable tests are carried out to see if it would be a good idea. Even with this, it is impossible to completely predict what might happen. Stoats can also be vicious hunters, so you need to be extra careful.

Also, it is likely to be illegal. If you have a local wildlife authority near you to whom you can speak, you might be able to suggest it to them. They will be the ones who can determine whether it is a good idea, but bear in mind, it probably won't be.

We're sorry if this is a disappointing answer, but thank you for asking the question and we hope we have provided some food for thought.
Rose
This is the threat New Zealand faces from stoats as an invasively introduced pest. We've lost several of our native bird species to stoats - they are considered a massive risk here and basically a "kill on sight" pest (Upsetting as that may be, we have no natural land predators, and a massive variety of birds, who are very vulnerable to rats/stoats/possums)
https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/pests-and-threats/animal-pests/stoats/
I hope this maybe informs any decision you may want to or have made.
Rating:
Archangel
If anyone asks for a Stoat, just give them a Ferret, they will never know the difference.
Rating:
Anthony Baker
No - the weasel, not the stoat, is the smallest mustelid
Jose Martinez
I would love to purchase one can you send me some shipping prices
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Jose, Thank you for your question.
We actually strongly advise not purchasing a stoat as they are illegally captured wild animals. However, attached is a link on adopting Ferrets as pets, which we recommend is a better option.
https://www.animalwised.com/ferrets-as-pets-guidelines-and-general-tips-479.html

Shipping animals on the other hand always depends on who is shipping the animal, its size and related laws. AnimalWised
Jose Martinez
I understand about the concern about me wanting to purchasinng a stoat.. I really want to save a small mammals. ..can you help me adopt a mink maybe
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Jose,

The same concern goes for mink. They are not properly domesticated and for them to be even a little friendly with humans they need a lot of socialization from a very early age. Generally they are prone to biting and can be a handful. They are intelligent, but not generally obedient to humans. We cannot help you adopt any pets specifically, our international audience is too big to do so. Depending where in the world you live, you can give money to animal rescue organizations, national wildlife trusts or similar if you want to benefit the mink. Having them as a pet is not going to benefit them unless they for some reason cannot live in the wild.
Are you serious
"can you send me some shipping prices" unbelievable
Rating:
Shirley Diana
I have an ermine, not as a pet but as a friendly guest who comes and goes. Herman showed up just after Christmas in his white coat, and has since turned brown (in March) and is about twice as big. He loves to play and is very curious. Tonight he showed up before supper, played hide and seek (or maybe it was peekaboo) for a while, but didn't stay for supper although I wanted to feed him some of my pork chop. He often does this - drives me crazy actually, since I love to feed him bits and pieces! But he doesn't stay to eat; he just comes to play and have a look at me.

I think Herman is a short-tailed weasel, and wonder if that is the same thing as a stoat. I'd love to have him as a pet, but he has never let me get close enough to touch him and I doubt he ever will. If one comes into your house, though, welcome him. For one thing, he will get rid of every mouse in the place! After that, he should have some food available (kibble cat food with a dish of water will do) because I've read that when the rodent population dwindles for any reason, they often starve to death. I won't let that happen to my Herman!

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