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Why is it a problem?


Introduced into New Zealand in the mid-1800s, the stoat is a member of the mustelid family, along with the smaller weasels and the much larger ferretsStoats are now considered “public enemy number one” for New Zealand birds.

  • Agile and excellent climbers, stoats hunt at any time, day or night
  • Rapid reproduction rates
  • Will happily swim up to 1.5 km to reach islands, so braided rivers birds nesting on temporary gravel islands are just as vulnerable as those nesting near riverbanks
  • Inhabits all regions, from alpine to coastal
  • Known predators of native birds, reptiles and invertebrates
  • As they are unable to store fat, the need to hunt and eat constantly during all seasons


Reddish-brown fur on its back, a white or cream coloured underbelly, and has a long tail relative to weasels, with a distinctive and obvious bushy black tip. An adult male can measure 390 mm from nose to tip of the tail. Stoats can be confused with weasels but adult stoats are longer and heavier than adult weasels and display a straight line along their sides where the brown fur meets the pale belly fur.

Where is it found?

Commonly found on all braided rivers throughout New Zealand.

Stoat trap with stoat (left) and weasel (right).

Conservation activities

More information