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Braided River Status

Present in braided river habitats throughout New Zealand.


Introduced into New Zealand in the mid 1800s, the ferret (Mustela furo) is the largest mustelid (see the different types in NZ) in New Zealand, with a body length of 320-460mm plus tail of 110-180mm. Males are noticeably larger than females, averaging 1.1-1.3 kg (max 1.85 kg) with females ranging from 400-1,100 grams. Ferrets are much larger and ‘stockier’ than stoats. The colour varies, with a typical white or cream undercoat and a variable quantity of longer dark guard hairs, giving some animals a black looking appearance while others appear almost white. The tail is generally but not always uniformly dark. There is a variable dark mask across the eyes and above the nose.



Why are they a problem?

  • Known to specifically target braided river birds breeding on riverbeds; implicated in the rapid decline of the black stilt/kakī
  • While ferrets specifically target rabbits, they will opportunistically hunt birds.
  • Highly intelligent predators 
  • Will attack and kill considerably larger prey

Conservation Activities

More information

Research papers