What Do Weasel Eat?

Few animals in the world get a bad rap like ferrets. They are generally associated with unreliable deviant behavior. Weasel’s place in the world is a little more complex than that, and they provide important services to the ecosystems in which they live. Nothing is more obvious than their diet, which we cover in depth.


Where Do Weasel Live?

There are various species of ferrets, and they can be found all over the world except in a few places (including parts of Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica).

They live in a variety of places, including in open fields, but for the most part, they prefer tightly closed areas that may also house their prey. This means forest, scrubland, and farmland.

Civets usually live in burrows they dig themselves or take over from less fortunate animals. They are also known to build nests under trees, piles of stones, piles of wood, and similar structures.

These are nocturnal creatures, so you won’t see them active during sunrise. Fortunately for them, night is also when their prey is most likely out and about. But what prey is it, exactly?

European pine marten weasel

What Do Weasel Eat?

Weasels are obligate carnivores, meaning they only eat meat, which is pretty much all they can find.

However, there is one exception. Weasels prefer their prey alive, so they will only scavenge if they are really desperate. These animals are excellent hunters, and when they catch their prey, they will eat everything: meat, skin, fur, fur, bones, etc.

Their main food source is rodents — in particular, mice, rats, and mice. Many people think of ferrets as pests like any other animal, but in most cases, it’s good news if you have a population of ferrets nearby, as it means you won’t have as many rodents as diseased.

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While rodents make up about 80% of a ferret’s diet, they will also eat any other small animal they can catch. These include birds, fish, snakes, rabbits, and even frogs and lizards. They will occasionally eat berries and other fruits, but these are not an important part of their diet.

If times are tough and the ferret is desperate, they may snack on turtles, porcupines, and other insects or invertebrates, but this is a food of last resort.

How Many Weasel Eats?

Weasel is an active animal and they have a very high metabolism. As a result, they need to eat as often as 10 times a day — that’s a great hunt!

These animals cannot store fat in their bodies, so they need as much food as possible. In fact, they are able to consume up to 50% of their body weight every day.

The fact that ferrets eat so much makes them important to the ecosystem in which they live. Without ferrets around to deplete the rodent population, the numbers of mice and rats would explode and ecological destruction could occur.

It doesn’t take many rodents to be a big deal, even when they don’t bother humans. In one experiment, scientists released two mice on an island without a natural rodent population; It only took 5 months for the animals to completely conquer the island.

Uncontrolled rodent populations are bad news for birds as they attack their nests and eat their eggs and young. These animals can also damage plant life because they eat seeds and sprouts before they get a chance to grow into adults.

Weasel Mustela nivalis kills big rat

What Do Weasel Eat?

Of course, an animal’s place in the food chain isn’t just about what they eat — it’s also about what eats it. Weasels are no exception, and some of the larger species rely on them for food. However, none of the species uses the civet as their main source of food because these animals are fast and cunning, and emit a foul odor from their anus.

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The biggest ferret predators are eagles and owls. These birds can spot the ferret from high in the air, and they can dive down with vicious efficiency, often pulling the badger off the ground before the poor animal even knows they are there.

Foxes and coyotes enjoy the occasional weasel appetizer too. These animals hunt the same way weasels do — only they are bigger and stronger.

Snakes have often been known to snack on ferrets. As you might expect, there is a bit of contention between these two animals, as ferrets will eat small, non-venomous snakes, but they can fall prey to certain larger species, such as boas or large venomous snakes.

Domestic cats and dogs will eat ferrets, and in many cases, they are kept by farmers for just that purpose. While civets are highly beneficial for the work they do to control rodent populations, they can also be pests, as they will eat chickens, rabbits, and other small farm animals.

Are Ferrets Dangerous to Humans and Pets?

Most ferrets will run away in fear if they see a human approach, so you don’t have to worry about one attacking you suddenly. However, if you corner them or try to pick them up, they will bite — and their teeth are not something you want to play with.

They may carry fleas, ticks, and other parasites, but for the most part, they do not carry diseases that are harmful to humans. It’s possible for them to carry rabies, which is even more reason for you to leave them alone, but it’s very rare.

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As for the pet, it depends on the pet. There are many myths about badgers killing and eating cats, dogs, and even large livestock such as sheep. But most ferrets are smaller than the average domestic cat, so they’re more likely to make food for your pet than the other way around (and they have absolutely no way of killing sheep or cows).

They will try to eat rabbits, chickens and other small pets. If you keep such animals, it is important to keep them inside or make sure their home is as safe and ferret-resistant as you can make.

Civets can carry diseases that are dangerous to other animals, such as dog distemper, Helicobacter mustelae, and even bovine tuberculosis.


Hungry, Hungry Weasel

Although they rarely get the respect they deserve, badgers actually play an important role in maintaining the balance of their ecosystem. Without them and their healthy appetite, the rodent population would soon grow out of control, with devastating results.

Featured Image Credit: sbw18, Shutterstock