Weasels As Pets – Everything You Need To Know

Weasels As Pets- Everything You Need To Know

Weasels are the smallest carnivores in the world and make cute pets.

Related to animals such as ferrets and polecats, they are usually brown, black, or grey, and have markings in yellow or white. One of the most fascinating things about weasels is that they become bright lavender under UV light.

Can they be kept as pets?

Weasels can be kept as pets, and it’s legal to do so in some places, although not many. If you can keep them, weasels are a great choice to have as pets because they’re small, social, and adaptable to different climates.

There are different types of weasels that hail from various parts of the world. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at general facts about weasels, followed by more in-depth facts regarding their care.

Weasel Facts Sheet

Scientific nameMustela
Other namesTropical weasel (for those in South America) and Mountain weasel (for those in Europe and Asia). Different weasels have different names, such as the Common weasel and Least weasel.
Lifespan1-2 years in the wild. In captivity, they tend to live three to five years, although some can live up to 10 years.
DietCarnivore diet. They like to eat rats, mice, rabbits, and voles. Sometimes they also eat birds, bird eggs, and frogs.
SizeSmaller weasels weigh about 25 grams and grow between four and 10 inches in length. Larger ones, such as the Long-tailed weasel, weigh between 85 and 350 grams. They grow between 10 and 12 inches in length, as Live Science reports.
FromLong-tailed weasels come from North America. Tropical weasels come from South America. There are also Japanese weasels from Japan and Mountain weasels in East and Central Asia. In Africa, you’ll find the African striped weasel. The most common weasel is the short-tailed weasel, which you’ll find in Europe, Asia, and North America.
Legal or illegal statesWeasels (and their cousins, ferrets) are illegal in various states.
Price rangeFrom a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

Different Types Of Weasels In Greater Detail

There are many different types of weasels. Although they share many of the same traits, they vary a bit, such as regarding their size and where they originate from.

Here’s a rundown of the different weasel types. 

Least Weasel

Least weasel

The Least weasel is found in regions from Alaska to Canada, as well as in areas of the Appalachia.

These weasels are the smallest when compared to other weasels.

They have a total length of less than 25cm, but females can be less than 22.5mm, University of Minnesota Duluth reports.

Long-Tailed Weasel

long tailed weasel mustela frenata

This large weasel is between 30cm and 35cm in length. It gets its name because of how it has a tail that’s longer than half of its body length!

It can be distinguished from other weasels by how its tail has a black tip. Long-tailed weasels are found in northern South America and southern Canada.

Short-Tailed Weasel

white short tailed weasel

This weasel is also known as ermine. It’s got a body length of between 20cm to 34cm.

Ermine are found in the Arctic, northeast United States, Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes, Northern California, and Intermontane West.

Mountain Weasel

Mountain Weasel Mustela altaica

Found in Europe and Asia, the Mountain weasel loves to live at high altitudes of over 11,000 feet.

This weasel has a coat that it uses during winter to keep itself warm, and then it sheds it for a lighter summer coat!

Japanese Weasel

Japanese weasel Mustela itatsi

These weasels occur on the islands of Honshū, Shikoku, Kyūshū. They are found in mountainous areas or forests, and love to be near water sources.

The Japanese weasel has a body length of between 20cm and 37cm.

Tropical Weasel

tropical weasel mustela africana

As its name suggests, this weasel is found in the warmer climates of South America.

It’s also known as the Amazon weasel. It is approximately 25–30 cm in length and is usually found in humid areas, such as forests within close proximity to rivers.

African Striped Weasel

African striped weasel Poecilogale albinucha

South of the Congo Basin, you’ll find the African Striped Weasel.

It has yellow and black stripes and a long white tail. Its body length is between 27cm and 32cm.

Taking Care Of Your Weasel

Weasels are generally harmless to humans, but they can be harmful to other pets you might already have at home, such as kittens, birds, and bunnies, so if you want to bring them to a pet-filled home you need to ensure you keep them separate from your other animals.

Whether or not you already have pets, if you really want to adopt a weasel there are some important things to bear in mind so you take good care of it. 

Food

lizard in weasels mouth

Since weasels are carnivores, you will have to ensure that they have a steady stream of food. They love to hunt and kill small animals such as mice, rabbits, rats, birds, and even small snakes.

They will thrive in an environment in which they have enough food to hunt. They are so adaptable to different weather conditions that they can even hunt under thick snow, as Mammal reports.

Make sure you provide enough food for your pet weasel because it will need to eat approximately 40 percent of its body weight every day!

Social Life

Weasels are generally solitary animals that know how to take care of themselves when in the wild. They become quite territorial, so it’s probably best to avoid keeping more than one.

It’s also important to keep weasels away from other animals that you have on your property, such as chickens. Although it might sound hard to believe, weasels are notorious for preying on poultry, mainly because they can sneak into holes or tiny cracks of poultry coops.

It’s been said that weasels can get through a hole that’s the size of a quarter!

Should You Keep Male Or Female Weasels?

Although it’s really your choice, there are some important things to consider. If you’re keeping both male and female weasels, you might want to keep them separate from each other.

In the wild, male and female weasels stick to their own territories until it’s time for them to breed.

There are some good reasons why it’s probably a good idea to choose female weasels for urban living instead of male ones. Female weasels travel less than their male counterparts.

Their territories are smaller than those occupied by males. In addition, female weasels remain in their territory throughout the year except for during mating season when they travel further out to find a mate.

Habitat

ideas for weasel enclosure

In the wild, you’ll find weasels in various places such as grasslands, crop fields, and brush piles. They like to build nests in places such as rock piles and hollow logs.

A good rule of thumb is that you’ll find weasels in areas that are frequented by rodents.

If you want to keep weasels, you’ll have to build them an enclosure. Here are some tips.

  • Make sure that there are no holes in it through which they can squeeze. Make the enclosure tall as weasels are good climbers.
  • Make the enclosure intriguing. Put stacks of fleece and tunnel systems inside it to keep your weasel entertained.
  • Ensure the weasels have enough cover from the sun.
  • Since they love to mark their territory with their scent, you should not remove items from their enclosure as this will help them to make the items theirs. 
  • When weasels can’t find trees in which to hide in dens at the base of them, they’ll make use of log piles or even patches of tall grass. These are great to have in your enclosure as they love to hide.
  • Weasels need a lot of space. They are highly active creatures, and this also means that they need to eat a lot of food on a regular basis in order to meet their calorie needs.
  • They also need a comfortable, dark place to sleep. Weasels can sleep for up to 20 hours a day!

Reproduction Information

Between the months of April and August, weasels will breed. They can produce up to two litters every year, with about four to six young in each litter.

The female weasel will carry her young for about five weeks. A mere two months or less after being born, the young weasels are able to hunt and kill their own prey.

Common Diseases

Weasels are susceptible to diseases such as bacterial infections and also skin parasites such as lice, mites, and ticks, as Ecology Center reports.

They can carry rabies, which is why it’s essential to have your weasels checked out by a veterinarian experienced in treating these exotic pets to ensure that they are safe and healthy.

Are Weasels Legal To Own?

weasel in the pine tree

Interestingly, much of the advice regarding weasels and if they’re legal or not is focused on ferrets.

Although these are the domesticated version of the weasel, they are surprisingly not legal in all U.S. states. You can’t legally own a ferret in states such as Hawaii, New York City, California, and Washington D.C., as well as other cities such as Columbia and Missouri, as Insider reports.

The reason?

Ferrets have been known to bite people and can spread rabies unless vaccinated. Since weasels can also carry rabies, the same concerns apply.

Animals that form part of the Mustelids category, such as weasels and polecats, are not usually kept as pets.

That said, no states other than Hawaii have outright banned them, but they are said to be illegal in New York City while a permit for them is required if you live in Rhode Island, as Pet Helpful reports.

The site goes on to add that besides for ferrets, other mustelids (such as badgers, minks, and otters) aren’t legal in many U.S. states.

Fascinating Facts About Weasels

They Behave Like Skunks When Under Threat

Did you know that the weasel is related to the skunk?

It demonstrates this by how it reacts when under threat. It contains small pouches underneath its tail that release a yellow, thick fluid that smells bad to throw off its attacker, as Mental Floss reports.

They’re Amazing Hunters

weasel with rodent

You might not consider weasels to be good at hunting because they’re so small, but they can kill animals that are double their size, such as rabbits.

In addition, they share similar hunting behavior to big cats like jaguars. They know how to grab prey and then wrap their bodies around them. Weasels will bite their prey on the back of the head to strike into the animal’s skull.

Another thing that makes weasels such great hunters is that they move really fast! They reach a top speed of 15 miles per hour, as AZ Animals reports.

They Stash Their Food

Have you ever seen a dog dig a hole to hide some of its food?

Well, weasels do the same thing. They dig holes in the ground in which to store their leftovers, and probably learned how to do this because of their adaptability to cold climates, as Mental Floss reports.

Make sure you have some places in their enclosure in which they can stash their grub!

They Hypnotize Their Prey

Weasels do what’s been referred to as a “weasel waltz” when hunting, which hypnotizes their prey.

Interestingly, it’s said that this is probably caused by a worm-like parasite behind their eyes that puts pressure on their brain, as Country Life reports.

They Can Be Noisy

Although they’re small, weasels are exotic pets that can make a lot of noise. If they hear a disturbance, such as another animal entering their territory, the weasel will make a sound that’s quite high-pitched and sounds like squeaking.

On the other hand, they also make a noise when they’re just greeting other weasels, in the form of low whistles and chirps.

They Are Surprisingly Playful

While you should never make a weasel feel threatened because that can make it bite you, weasels are playful and curious animals.

In fact, weasels are one of the few animals that play as adults, as The New York Times reports. Make sure you give them fun toys to play with in their enclosure!

Where To Buy Pet Weasels

You can find pet weasels available to purchase online, but some can be quite expensive. This is why some people choose to buy ferrets instead as they can cost up to $250.

Ferrets are also easier to find as many pet stores sell them. Finding weasel breeders and sellers isn’t easy, however there are some places where you can purchase weasels. Just be prepared to pay quite a bit of money for them.

You’re looking at approximately $2,400 for Libyan Striped Weasels and up to $20,000 for Least Weasels.

Four Animals Similar To The Weasel

Sometimes there’s a bit of confusion when it comes to differentiating between weasels and other animals. Here are animals that are similar to weasels as well as information about what sets them apart from them.

Stoat

Weasels are often mistaken for stoats. Although they’re similar and are both part of the mustela family, they do have some differences.

For example, weasels are much smaller than stoats. It’s been said that the weasel is the smaller version of the stoat.

The stoat’s body is between 30 and 40cm in length, while the weasel has a body length of between 20 and 27cm.

Ferret

two ferrets

Although they are thought to be from the same family, weasels are one of 10 species of the mustelidae family and ferrets are a subspecies of the polecat branch of the family.

Ferrets have longer bodies and shorter tails than weasels. However, ferrets are domesticated while weasels are not, and this is what makes them a good alternative to purchase if you’re looking for a unique pet.

Otter

Otters and weasels are both part of the Mustelidae family of mammals. But otters are considered to be the most water-loving members of this family.

Who hasn’t seen pictures of them floating on their backs, looking super-cute? Otters have webbed toes and a flattened tail to make them stronger swimmers.

Skunk

skunk as a pet

Earlier we mentioned how skunks and weasels release smelly fluids from underneath their tails to ward off predators.

While skunks are also solitary animals like weasels, their behavior differs from weasels’ because they do sometimes join other skunks in communal dens to stay warm in the cold.

Weasel Objects For Sale

If you love weasels, you’ll probably want to purchase items that contain pictures of these fascinating animals. Here’s a rundown of some of the best you can find online.

Weasel Mugs

You can find weasel mugs on Amazon without spending a lot of money. Some mugs have pictures of weasels on them, while others have funny quotes about weasels. Perfect for the weasel lover!

Weasel Clothing

Fancy a weasel t-shirt, tank top, or sweatshirt? You can find a range of weasel-related clothing on Amazon. There are also some cute ferret ones on offer. 

Weasel Cushions

two weasels hugging

For the serious weasel lover who wants to bring these furry animals into their home, a weasel cushion or pillow is a must-have decor item. You can find cute and colorful cushions and weasel floor cushions on Redbubble.

Weasel Notebooks

Keeping a diary or journal is always fun, and it’s even more fun if you have a weasel notebook on hand. You can find some cute weasel notebooks on Amazon, such as one with weasel pictures on the cover.

Books About Weasels

If you want to increase your knowledge about these adorable animals, check out these books about weasels:

1. Facts About The Weasel: Picturebook For Kids by Lisa Strattin

This book has lots of lovely pictures about weasels, along with facts about these fascinating animals. This is a fun book to purchase if you have kids who want a pet weasel as you can learn about them as a family.

2. The Natural History Of Weasels And Stoats: Ecology, Behavior, And Management by Carolyn M. King

This book provides readers with an in-depth and interesting study of how our knowledge of weasels has increased over the last 15 years, while being easy to understand as well as enjoyable to read.

Weasel Emojis, Gifs, And Icons

While there aren’t really many weasel emojis available (the otter is still the more popular animal emoji!), you can find lots of weasel GIFs on Tenor.

Imgur also has a cute GIF of a tiny weasel playing on someone’s desk. Finally, there are weasel icons available on Flat Icon.

Related Questions

Are weasels considered to be pests?

weasel and egg

Farmers tend to see them as vermin because of how weasels attack poultry and chicken eggs, however they do have their uses – they keep numbers of mice under control! 

Are weasels dangerous to humans?

Weasels can attack humans if they feel threatened or scared, so it’s important to treat them well, as with any animal.

Give them enough space to hunt and roam, and make sure that they have places in which they can hide as this is important to them.

Conclusion

Although you might only think of weasels as a nuisance or pests in the wild, they are actually much more interesting animals than that.

You might even be able to give one of these cute, intriguing creatures a home.

In this article, we’ve looked at fascinating facts about these mammals and what they need in order to survive in captivity, such as when it comes to their diet and habitat.

Once you’ve followed the advice in this article, you’ll be ready to give a pet weasel a happy home!

Last updated on:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *