Difference Between Stoat and Ferret

Stoat vs Ferret

Stoats and Ferrets are ferocious long bodied mammals that belong to Mustelidae family and are commonly referred to as weasels. Despite having many similarities, stoats and ferrets have many differentiating factors. It is easy for common people to be mistaken at first glance. This article attempts to articulate the differences between stoat and ferret.


Stoat is a species of Mustelidae family that is also known as a short tailed weasel. It is commonly found in Eurasia and North America. Do not be confused between a stoat and a least weasel as stoat has a larger tail and also a larger body size. The tail of a stoat has a prominent black tip that is missing in case of a weasel. Stoat is today found in large numbers in New Zealand where it was imported from North America to find an answer to a growing wild rabbit population that was an enemy of the crops.

Stoat is also known as Ermine, a word derived from Armenia, the country where it is thought to have been originated. A horde of stoats is called a gang or a pack whereas a male is called a hob, jack or a dog. Females are referred to as Jill or bitch. The body length of males is 29 cm with a 11cm tail while females measure 26cm with a 9cm tail. They weigh around 400-500g.

Stoats have a long, cylindrical body, short legs with 5 toes and a long tails. The fur of stoats is chestnut brown in summers but it turns white in winters when they are referred to as ermines. However, the black tipped tail remains black in all seasons.

Stoats are very agile and good climbers. They are also very good swimmers. They live near marshes, woods, farms or mountains. They make nests of grass and give birth to litter. Their primary source of food is rabbit. In times of scarcity, they feed on carcasses of animals. They also prey on insects, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Stoats are in abundant numbers and are not classified as endangered wherever they are found.


Though having similar bodies and shape, it is easy to tell a ferret from a stoat from its distinctive facial mask that makes it look like a bandit. It is also bigger and larger than stoats. Ferrets can grow up to a size of 68cm, nearly double the size of a stoat. Ferrets adapt to all kinds of habitat, and one can find them on riverbeds, farmland, and in the fringes of forests.

Like stoats, ferrets have a large, distinctive tail, but whereas stoats have a pale belly, ferrets have a dark colored stomach. Ferrets have a black tip on the tail very much like stoats. Ferrets are part of Mustelidae family and are carnivorous mammals like stoats. Ferrets bear more resemblance to polecats than stoats.

Ferrets are crepuscular which means they spend most of the time asleep whole being active at dawn and dusk. A group of ferrets is referred to as business. Historically, ferrets have been domesticated in farms to keep a check on the population of rabbits that damaged standing crops.

What is the difference between Stoat and Ferret?

• Ferrets have a larger body and tail than stoats

• Ferrets have a facial mask which is not there in case of stoats

• Stoats have a pale belly while ferrets have a dark stomach

• Stoat is active all day long in short periods between naps while a ferret is asleep most of time, active mostly during dawn and dusk

• Ferrets are considered endangered while stoats are least concern mammals.