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The Natural History of Weasels and StoatsEcology, Behavior, and Management$
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Carolyn M. King and Roger A. Powell

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195322712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195322712.001.0001

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(p.97) 5 Food
The Natural History of Weasels and Stoats

Carolyn M. King

Roger A. Powell

Oxford University Press

Weasel diets are relatively easy to list, because they are specialist predators on a small number of potential prey species (mostly small mammals and birds, identifiable by standard methods) and their stomach capacity is small so they usually cannot eat more than one item at a sitting. But making sense of the lists has to be done cautiously, for reasons explained in this chapter. The large and scattered literature on weasel diets is collected and translated into standardized comparisons. The charts show clearly that diet is strongly related to body size. The smallest weasels are totally dependent on rodents and birds, of whatever species are locally available, plus a few insects or berries in hard times. Larger weasels eat many of these staple items too, but are strong enough to add bigger prey, including rabbits, rats, chipmunks and ground squirrels. Most weasels avoid shrews unless they can find nothing better.

Keywords:   scats, gut samples, voles, mice, rabbits, birds, myxomatosis, Mustela

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