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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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