This article will answer common questions regarding the weasel’s unique diet such as “what do weasels eat?” or “can I have a weasel as a pet?”
What do weasels eat?
Weasels are carnivores, that will usually only eat other animals. They usually hunt prey that are smaller than themselves, such as rats, voles, shrews, chipmunks, mice, and other small mammals.
Weasels are also known to prey on animals larger than themselves too, like rabbits and hares. Depending on where they live, and the food sources available to them, weasels have also been known to eat eggs, birds, fish, frogs, insects and even fruit and berries. Like many species, males tend to be larger in size than females, thus they tend to hunt larger sized prey.
Now that we understand more about what do weasels eat, what about how they hunt their prey? Weasels are nocturnal hunters, meaning that they mostly hunt at dusk or during the night. They track their intended prey, and when ready to pounce, they will run very fast and leap onto it; using their teeth to impact a sharp bite to the back of its neck, until the animal is incapacitated.
How do weasels live?
Weasels can be found in Europe, the Americas, much of Asia, and in North Africa. They can also be found in New Zealand, but this is not their natural habitat, as humans introduced them there. They live in a wide range of environments, from fields and forests to urban inner-city areas, nesting in holes in walls and in trees; which they line with grass, leaves and other foraged materials. So, although they are hunters, as we learned when looking at what do weasels eat, they are also skilled scavengers too. A weasel will inhabit an area of anything up to fifty acres. They are great at climbing and may scale trees, cliffs, and even buildings in search of food.
Can I have a weasel as a pet?
Understanding what do weasels eat is a good step towards owning a weasel as a pet. If you already keep rodents, cats or dogs as pets, you may not want to add a weasel to your pet family. Rodents, such as mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, and chipmunks, are all the natural prey of weasels. Cats and dogs are known predators of weasels, so it is quite likely they will be unable to live in harmony together.
Like dogs and their pups, male weasels are known as ‘dogs’ and female weasels are referred to as ‘bitches’. Just like cats, young weasels are called ‘kittens’. A group of weasels can be called a gang, a pack, a confusion and even a boggle!
Although weasels are solitary creatures in the wild, they do enjoy company when kept in captivity. Therefore, it is recommended to care for weasels in pairs, to prevent loneliness and encourage a happy, healthy home.
Do weasels bite humans?
As we discovered when looking at what do weasels eat, they are carnivorous creatures, so they have sharp teeth made for hunting and biting their prey. Although weasels look very cute, they are not entirely harmless. You can handle domesticated weasels, but ensure you do not provoke or tease them, as they are known to respond with a sharp nip of their teeth.
As weasels are small creatures, they could easily be stood on, which will prompt them to defend themselves by biting the offending foot! If you intend to keep weasels, it is a good idea to create a fenced run for them, to safely get the exercise they need.
Do weasels spray?
Weasels have scent glands in little pouches beneath their tail, that can produce a pungent musk. Like a skunk, a weasel will shoot a spray of this yellow, foul-smelling liquid at predators to deter it from attacking them, giving the weasel an opportunity to escape.