Stoats and weasels at Croome
Since converting the fields of arable crops back to pasture in the mid-2000s, Croome’s parkland has become a lot more appealing to a variety of birds and animals, including stoats and weasels.
Working with The Vincent Wildlife Trust, Croome hopes to discover more about these elusive creatures.
“We’re particularly interested to find out more about stoats and weasels that live in the garden areas, working in partnership with the Vincent Wildlife Trust, who are experts on these mammals, we’re hoping to get some evidence of them at Croome.” Katherine Alker, Croome’s Garden and Outdoors Manager
Lizzie Croose, Mustelid Conservation Officer for The Vincent Wildlife Trust, visited Croome in May to install seven monitoring boxes, called ‘Mostelas’ at various points in the garden so that we could monitor activity.
The ‘Mostela’ was developed by The Dutch Small Mustelid Foundation and comprises a wooden box with a plastic tunnel running through it and a camera inside, trained on the tunnel. When an animal enters the tunnel, the camera is triggered and records a video or photo. They look like wooden cases, and have been hidden amongst the plants so they are well camouflaged. They are harmless to the animal so if spotted, visitors are asked not to disturb them but cover them with grass if possible.
“Very little is known about weasels and stoats in Britain and they are among our hardest mammal species to study, we hope that this work will help us to find out more about how weasel and stoat populations are doing across the country. After two weeks, the footage was reviewed but disappointingly the only images captured were of mice, shrews and voles. However, on her next visit Lizzie was delighted as she had recorded a weasel going in and out of the box.” Lizzie Croose.
The Mostelas will now be left in place over the next 4 months and is it hoped that more footage will capture these fascinating animals.
Stoats are the larger of the two species, approximately 30-40cm long, and have a distinctive black tip to their tail. Weasels are smaller, only 20-25 cm long, with a very short tail without a black tip. In stoats, the line separating the brown fur on the back and the pale fur on the belly is relatively straight, whereas in weasels, it is irregular and wavy.
As a conservation charity, it's vital that we look after these places so that wildlife such as weasels and stoats can continue to thrive and every penny that visitors spend on entrance fees at Croome, buying a cup of tea or a gift in the shop helps towards this work.