Weasels are a group of mammals. They are characterized by small, elongated bodies, short legs, necks, and even small heads. These pets are closely related to ferrets, ermine, minks, and polecats. All these tiny animals belong to the Mustela genus. They share the same family (Mustelids) with animals such as wolverines, otters, and badgers.
All weasels are nocturnal animals, which means they sleep throughout the day and become active at night. They come out at night to hunt, store excess food, or eat. Since their little bodies cannot store fat, they have to eat all the time to stay energetic.
So, what exactly do weasels eat? What do weasels eat in the wild and what should you feed a pet weasel? In the following you can learn about the diet of wild and pet weasels.
Wild Weasel Food and Diet
Wild weasels obtain their most essential nutrients from feeding on voles, mice, squirrels, rabbits, frogs, moles, bird eggs, hedgehogs, wasps, turtles, and even small birds. This explains why these little animals are carnivorous.
But a few species of weasels come out as omnivorous. They supplement their diet by eating plant matter such as vegetables and fruits.
Each type of weasel has its own unique diet.
Here is an example:
- Egyptian Weasel: They feed on fruits, vegetables, small mammals, insects, chicks, and ducklings.
- Amazon Weasels: They consume only the carnivorous diet that consists of voles, rabbits, squirrels, and mice.
- Least Weasels: They prefer feeding on birds, insects, voles, and carrion.
- Long-tailed Weasels: They are known to eat small mammals such as voles rabbits, gophers, chipmunks, an array of small bird species, and insects.
Pet Weasel Food and Diet
As mentioned above, weasels are carnivores although there are those that are omnivores. Having said that, it is prudent that you understand what your little pet eats to stay alive and be energetic.
As a pet, your weasel is likely to feast on rodents, lizards, frogs, and numerous small mammals such as mice. As you may know, these animals wreak havoc in most homes. So, having a pet weasel around will help control them and balance the ecosystem.
They have great hunting skills and within no time you will realize that mice and other small animals are no longer bothering you within your home.
Plus, they’re opportunistic hunters that feed multiple times. This means that you should consider supplementing their diet by acquiring ready-made foods for them. Obviously, the food should contain a large percentage of meat.
If you don’t feed them as required, these pets can turn into predators and steal your hens. You can try to find the small fish and berries for them when their usual prey is not available.
Also, you must know their feeding habits so you may handle them properly. Most of them prefer mammals and rodents over other sources of food. This is due to the fact that the nutritional value of mammals and rodents is higher than what they get from lizards and amphibians.
But feeding your pet weasel on live animals can be a challenge or rather impossible. For that reason, you should try to find canned and dry foods from the market.
Give them cat food or ferret food if it is available. Avoid foods that contain large quantities of grain as fillers. Instead, provide them with high-quality food that contains a lot of meat.
Bear in mind that they also feed on bird eggs. In this case, they will climb trees to find eggs or steal some from your poultry farm if they feel hungry or get the chance to access your chicken coop.
Another thing you need to know is that weasels eat more in winter than at any other time of the year. They eat a lot during this cold season to keep themselves warm and healthy. In this case, ensure that their diet is well-balanced to provide them with the necessary nutrients they need to lead a healthy life.
How Much and How Often to Feed Your Pet Weasel?
Weasels eat most of the time when they’re not asleep. This explains why they are ferocious hunters in the wild. They will hunt almost anything that looks edible to them, preferably small mammals. No wonder such small animals make up to 80% of the weasel’s diet.
Now to answer the question regarding how much they eat, each weasel can consume about 50% of its total body weight in one day. This is because weasels have relatively higher metabolic rates compared to other small mammals.
As a matter of fact, they can eat up to 10 times a day. This clearly indicates that you have to feed your pet weasel at shorter intervals as they don’t store fat in their bodies.
What do Baby Weasels Eat?
Baby weasels are also known as kittens or kits. They’re weaned after 5 weeks, so at this age, they should be fed on solid food. Their diet must be blanched with most of it comprising meat to help them grow fast and become strong.
Feed them in small amounts because their digestion system is not yet ready for solid food. Increase gradually as they grow until they can eat without a problem.
Do Weasels Eat Fruits and Vegetables?
Yes! Some weasels species do eat fruits and vegetables. A perfect example is an Egyptian weasel or Mustela subpalmata. This pet has an unusual diet that contains a high percentage (bout 50%) of vegetables including dates, grapes, beans, and wheat in the form of bread.
Can Weasels Eat Hard-Boiled Eggs?
Absolutely yes! Eggs, whether boiled, scrambled, or raw, are a good source of proteins for your pet weasel. In fact, They are a great addition to your pet weasel’s well-balanced diet. Feed them as a treat or in moderation to give them the much-needed nutritional supplements. However, you should be on the lookout not to overfeed them because they can develop some health complications.
Excess egg white in your weasel’s diet is likely to cause a condition known as biotin deficiency. As a result, your little pet will have some disorders on their skin, nails, and hair. In extreme cases, their nervous system may be compromised. In general, boiled eggs are a better option than raw eggs. They’re free of avidin and salmonella, which are prevalent in raw eggs.
Can Weasels Drink Tap Water?
The astounding answer is yes. Since they eat from time to time, you should expect your pet weasels to drink water frequently. They need plenty of water to aid in digestion and to keep their bodies cool.
Keep in mind that these small mammals are always active and can get hydrated at any given time of the day. Therefore, you should ensure that they have a constant supply of fresh water, including tap water. On average, a single weasel can drink up to 0.85 ounces of water in a day.
Can Weasels Eat Chicken or Beef?
Yes! Weasels are carnivorous animals and can feed on different types of meat including chicken and beef. As predators, you have to take care because they may prey on your flock of chickens at home.
They’re excellent killers and can decimate your chickens in a single night. Much like squirrels gather and store nuts, weasels kill their prey in masses to store them for future consumption. So, it’s true that these little mammals love chicken as much as they love other types of meat.
Interesting Facts About Weasels
You can easily identify weasels by their physical characteristics. They are brown, black, or grey with a few yellow or white markings. In the winter season, all weasels become white. This phenomenon occurs due to their fur growing into a bright lavender color when they are exposed to ultraviolet light.
They come in different sizes but the most common ones are the least weasels. These are considered the smallest species of weasels out of 17 weasels species roaming the earth today. They weigh as much as 25 grams (1 ounce) and can grow up to 4-10 inches 10-25 cm) in length.
Larger weasels can grow up to 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) and weigh between 85-350 g (3 and 12.3 ounces). Their tails may reach up to 4-8 inches (10.2-20.3cm) long. Most of these larger species of weasels comprise tropical weasels and long-tailed weasels species.
Weasels can adapt to any environmental conditions. This is the reason they are found in different parts of the world. For instance, tropical weasels are common in South America while the long-tailed ones live mainly in North America.
Japanese weasels inhabit forests, grasslands, suburbs, and villages across Japan. But mountain weasels thrive best in Central and East Asia. The African weasels are predictably found in most parts of the African continent. Unlike the other weasels, the African ones are striped.
Short-tailed weasels are the most common weasels across the globe. They are found in Europe, Asia, North America, and some regions within the Arctic. Their habitats include scrubs, marshes, alpine meadows, hedgerows, riverbanks, and riparian woodlands.
Weasels can make great, because they are easy to care for, playful and very sociable. They’re harmless to humans when not provoked. But they can be dangerous to other pets in your household. This is attributed to their carnivorous behavior.
Weasels are not good companion for birds and rodents, because they will eat them, hover they get along with dogs and cats. They need to eat frequently to stay healthy and keep their bodies warm, especially in winter.
Another reason why they have to eat as often as possible is that their bodies cannot store fat. By eating frequently, they are able to stay energetic and active for so many hours.