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Braided River Status

Commonly found along braided rivers.


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.

Similar in colour and general appearance to weasels, stoats (Mustela erminea) are larger, have longer tails with a distinctive bushy back tip and there is a clear demarcation in colour from the reddish-brown fur on their backs and their yellow-white belly fur. Stoats are 350-400mm long from nose to tip of the tail. At 325grams males are generally considerably larger than females, which are about 205 grams, though this may vary from region to region. In alpine areas, some stoats develop a pure white winter fur, (though this is rare in New Zealand) and referred to as ermines. Stoats have acute sight, hearing and smell, and may have some colour perception.



Why are they a problem?

    • Agile and excellent climbers, stoats hunt at any time, day or night
    • Rapid reproduction rates
    • Will happily cross water; braided rivers birds nesting on temporary gravel islands are no less vulnerable than those nesting near riverbanks
    • Inhabits all regions, from alpine to coastal
  • Known predators of native birds, reptiles and invertebrates

Conservation Activities

Stoat Trap

Stoat traps with stoat (left) and ferret (right).

More information

Research papers