Photographing a British Stoat in Surrey

I am going to get killed by the Mustela experts out there if I have misidentified this little creature. I’m notorious for confusing weasels with stoats. Not in person (the size difference gives them away) but in photographs. I think this is a stoat because from recollection it was a good size - the size of a rat. Weasels are a bit smaller and slimmer. They also have a pure white underside, whereas a stoat has a cream throat and belly.

How do you photograph one of these? To be honest, by being very lucky. This involves going back to the same place over and over and hoping one will appear. The problem with stoats and weasels is that they move like lightning and getting a clean picture of them can be frustrating. You have to catch the rare moment when the creature is still and that will only last for a split second. To say I was lucky on this particular day is an understatement. Not only did it appear for quite some time, but it actually posed. And posed. In photography terms this is gold dust!

For the gearheads amongst you, I was using an Olympus OMD EM5 on this outing, with the Panasonic Lumix 100-300 f4.5-5.6 MkI lens.

Today’s tip:

Be prepared by having appropriate settings dialled into your camera. Creatures like this can move very quickly, they can even be in the process of moving when we think they’re static. This means a shutter speed as high as your light conditions will allow. And that in turn means cranking the ISO if necessary.


Do stoats turn white in winter?

In the far north of England, yes. In the south they stay brown.


Body weight ….

A stoat weighs between 100 and 450g and they’re found all over the UK. They’re strong enough to eat a chicken or a hare. A stoat can live for up to 10 years, weazels for around 3.


Breeding ….

Stoats raise one letter a year (two for weazels) of between 6 and 12 kits. Neither stoats nor weazels are endangered.

wildlifeLindsay Dobson