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Stoats and weasels


Adult Stoats and Weasels are occasionally found as road casualties but are rare patients in wildlife hospitals as they
are not animals that even the most determined cat wants to tackle.

Juveniles are occasionally found if a nest is disturbed by man or a large predator and can be hand reared and rehabilitated.

Because they are naturally fierce and difficult to handle stoats and weasels need very secure housing, such as a glass tank or
thick wire mesh chinchilla cage, to ensure they will not be able to gnaw themselves free.

A crush cage is advisable when giving medications as the animals are very lithe and hard to hold, even with a grasper.

They are carnivorous so can be fed raw meat, preferably whole wild rabbit or chicken with giblets.
They will also need a small heavy container of water,


Rearing
Baby weasels and stoats can be reared using kitten formula feeds such as Cimicat or Esbilac after thorougly rehydrating with critical care solution.
Give them something they can nest inside:  weasels like a glove or thick sock, turned over on itself to make a pouch.
Stoats are larger so a very big, thick sock or woolly hat will make a snug nest.

When the eyes open, introduce a little raw meat to the diet, preferably with the bone and fur still in place. At about 4 weeks old they should be fully weaned.
Frozen day old chicks or mice sold by pet shops are ideal.  You will need to defrost the food and chop it up for the youngster at first,
until it is able to manage a whole specimen.  If you have more than one, a whole, unskinned rabbit can eventually be given.

Once fully weaned, transfer them, together with their wooly nests, to a secure straw filled cage and place it outside near a thick thorn hedge
or wall where they can be released into suitable territory, ideally near to where they were found.  Put a heavy pottery bowl of water inside.
You will need to make a cover for the cage if the weather is wet; the youngsters may use the release cage as a nest for some time
until they establish their territories and you need to have somewhere covered to leave their food.
Give them a couple of days to get used to the souds and smells of the area, then open the door a couple of inches and wire it in position
so they can get in and out but larger animals will not be able to get inside.

If possible, monitor the cage from a distance through binoculars to see how they get on and leave small amounts of food every 2 or 3 days.
After about 3 weeks, it is unlikely that any of them will be dependent on your food, so gradually decrease the amount and regularity of meals
unless there is a severe drought.  Make sure they always have water available if the weather is unusually dry.

Specialist help

If you do not have suitable facilities to rear these animals, contact Andrew Grey at the University of Manchester for advice and to arrange for care
from his network of volunteers.  24 hr emergency Tel: 07903 965281.  Other contact numbers: 0161 2752670 or 07903 965281

For feeding details:  Feeding Mammals