Mustela furo, M. erminea, M. nivalis

Mustelids (ferret, stoat, weasel)

Family: Mustelidae

Origin: Europe

A stoat looking straight across the camera, perched over a small mound.
Stoats have reddish-brown fur on its back, a white or cream coloured underbelly, and a long tail.
Photo credit: Department of Conservation, Te Papa Atawhai

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Waiheke — Eradication
  • Kawau — Eradication
  • Parkland with Significant Ecological Areas — Site-led
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area pest — Site-led
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest
  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area priority status

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Ferrets are the largest of the mustelids (600-1,300 g) and are distinguished by a dark 'mask' across the eyes.

Stoats are smaller (200-350 g) and are orange-brown with a white-cream underbelly and a black tip at the end of the tail.

Weasels are the smallest (60-120 g) and are orange-brown with a white-cream underbelly and a uniformly brown tail.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell any mustelid within the Auckland region.
  • In the future, all commercial transport operators moving goods or people to or among Hauraki Gulf islands will need to have a Pest Free Warrant.
  • Anyone intending to move a building to or among Hauraki Gulf islands must notify Auckland Council at least 10 working days prior to movement so that an inspection can be arranged.

Habitats

Forest, scrub, grasslands, braided rivers, alpine areas, coastal areas, pasture.

Impact on environment

Preys on native birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. Particularly threatens ground-nesting, cavity-nesting and forest birds. Can act as vectors of diseases such as canine distemper and bovine TB.

Control

Management

If you see a mustelid on a pest-free island within the Tīkapa Moana/Hauraki Gulf, please report it to Auckland Council at pestfree@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.

Please refer to the Pest animal control guidelines for information on how to control mustelids, or contact Auckland Council at pestfree@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.

A weasel looking over an egg.
Weasels are predators of native birds, eggs, lizards and insects.
Photo credit: Department of Conservation, Te Papa Atawhai
A weasel curled up in someone's hand.
They have orange-brown coats with white fur on their belly and short tails.
Photo credit: Department of Conservation, Te Papa Atawhai
A ferret with white rings on its face looking up.
Ferrets were introduced to New Zealand from Europe in the 1880s to help control the rabbit population.
A ferret caught in a trap.
Ferrets are the largest mustelid in New Zealand.
Ferret in the night.
Ferrets are distinguished by a dark 'mask' across the eyes.
Photo credit: Department of Conservation
A ferret yowling at the camera.
Ferrets are mainly nocturnal.
Photo credit: Landcare Research
A furry brown stoat with a white underside is placed on top of someone's knee, carefully balanced between a pair of hands.
Introduced to New Zealand to control rabbits that were destroying pasture.
Photo credit: Department of Conservation, Te Papa Atawhai
A stoat turning back as it walks across pebbles.
Stoats have had a devastating effect on New Zealand’s birdlife.
Photo credit: Department of Conservation, Te Papa Atawhai
A shot of a stoat on a night surveillance camera.
Stoats are members of the mustelid family.
Photo credit: Hunua monitor
A white stoat staring straight at the surveillance camera at night.
Stoats can live in any habitat where they can find prey.
Photo credit: Hunua monitor