What’s the Difference Between a Stoat and a Weasel?

stoat-thumbnailWell… Weasels are w’easily recognisable and Stoats are stoatily different! Yes I know it’s an old one and not particularly a good one considering that it’s actually quite difficult to tell the difference between these two similar animals in the ‘real’ world. So, what are the main differences between the two and how can we indentify them?


Although they look similar – one way to tell the difference between a stoat and a weasel is that unlike stoats, weasels do not have a black tip to the tail.


Weasels have a very slim, cylindrical body. There are two sub-species, the Northern European pygmy or snow weasel, and the common weasel, found further south. In general, the body size is smaller in northern populations.


The fur is chestnut brown with white fur below. Northern and Eastern weasels turn white in winter, whilst Southern European varieties stay brown.


In winter, the stoat’s fur turns completely white, except for the black tip to its tail. During this time they are called ‘ermine’.


Stoats have a long slim body and a long tail, the end of which is almost always black. The fur is chestnut brown in summer, with a lighter underside. Males are larger than females.



Stoat. Notice the long tail with the black tip.

Stoat. Notice the long tail with the black tip.



Stoat with winter coat aka ermine.

Stoat with winter coat aka ermine.



**if there are any points you would like to raise or any information you would like to add  regarding this article, please feel free to use the Comments box below.**

4 Responses to “What’s the Difference Between a Stoat and a Weasel?”

  • derek hurst:

    last year we had hedgehogs this year we have something we cant think as to what it is.
    its black about 6to 7: no tail the face is small with a pig like nose the feet are partly web and something that looks like hair what is it its not a hedgehog and it moves fast with a woddle and very rounded.

  • i think it must be a hedgehog with alopecia on speed.

  • Nicki:

    Could it be a mole?

  • Hi Tony!

    Well, for a moment I was doubting you . . . and then I realized that you are referencing European weasel species! Ah ha! Here in North America, we have three species, the Least Weasel, the Short-Tailed Weasel (Stoat), and the Long-Tailed Weasel. The Stoat and the Long-Tailed have black tips on their tails, and because of the sexual dimorphism, it’s difficult to tell a male Stoat from a female Long-Tail (especially by the tracks). Our Least Weasel, however, has no black tip. So here it gets even trickier =)

    Awesome site by the way — an incredible resource! I’ve just begun exploring . . .


Leave a Reply