Have you ever seen a weasel? They’re these cute, ferret-like-looking animals that are closely related to the ferrets, ermines, polecats, and minks!
Weasels may be attracted to your backyard if it has the shelter and food they prefer. They like to live in open fields, grasslands, on quiet roadsides, patios, porches, near sources of food, in hollowed out logs, near gardens and sources of food, close to areas with prey, and near water sources.
So, you may be wondering, what’s attracting weasels to my outdoor space, and what can you do about it? Well, today, we’re talking about all things weasel: where they commonly live, what to do if you see one, and more!
What Is A Weasel Anyway?
Don’t be a weasel! Ever heard of that saying? Well, there’s a lot of truth behind that saying, because weasels are extremely sneaky and mischievous.
Weasels can camouflage themselves and they use this to sneak up and eat their prey which consists mainly of mice, rats, voles, rabbits, birds, and other small mammals.
Weasels are part of the Mustelidae family and, according to an article in the National Library of Medicine, weasels are closely related to stoats, polecats, mink, fishers, wolverines, weasels, martens, badgers, and otters. Mustelids are the largest family of carnivores.
A weasel’s coat is typically brown in color during the warmer months. However, during colder months, all weasels turn pure white, like snow— this is called the Ermine phase.
Where Do Weasels Live?
Weasels have a variety of places where they choose to reside, but the biggest common factor of each environment is that there is a water, shelter and food sources readily available. I mean, can you blame them?
Something absolutely interesting about a weasel is that it’s capable of a process called molting, which means that a weasel can shed an entire layer of their fur, and then grow fur that is colored based on which season they are in.
For instance, a weasel can be white for the snow in winter, or a red color, if they are in a dessert. With this capability, weasels can really live anywhere, because they’ll be able to camouflage themselves to their surroundings.
It’s also not uncommon for weasels to be living in your backyard, especially if you have a wooded area or swimming pool available.
We’ll talk more about this later— but for now, let’s get to it and talk about the 5 most common places where weasels live!
Weasels Live In Open Fields And Grasslands
Weasels tend to live in open fields and grasslands as long as it offers what they need.
Oftentimes, weasels live in open spaces because there are a lot of food sources available, like small mammals such as rabbits and mice.
Weasels are considered nocturnal/diurnal, which means that weasels are out during both the day and night. This makes it easier to roam around a large open space while camouflaging to its surroundings.
Although you may think an open field wouldn’t make sense for an animal to stay safe in, an open field often offers tall grasses, overgrown florals, and an endless amount of space to burrow and den, and away from most weasel predators like owls or hawks that hide amongst trees.
That being said, weasels are versatile in where they live, and open space and grassland is just one of the places they can easily adapt to.
Weasels Can Live Along Quiet Roadsides
Another place where you may find weasels living is along quiet roadsides.
According to the Kansas State University Department of Animal Science and Industry, the weasel population density varies greatly between seasons and the availability of food. It is dependent on their species, so finding them on a quiet roadside must mean there is a dense amount of food nearby—think rats along a road.
Quiet roadsides do make a good spot for a weasel because a weasel’s hearing is acute, which makes a quiet roadside the perfect place for weasels to look for prey.
They can use their sense of hearing to go after their next meal, especially if there aren’t too many loud cars driving on by.
Weasels May Burrow And Live Near Patios And Porches
Another common place where weasels live is near patios and porches. The reality is that the weasel may not have created it themselves, but rather stole the den from another animal.
What’s super interesting is that a weasel will often overtake another animal’s den and live in it.
Think of a rabbit den that was built and the bunnies had leave, or a gopher burrow or mole burrow. If a weasel finds one of these, they will take it for themselves.
Although a weasel doesn’t always live near humans, other animals typically do, and because of that, weasels wind up closer to your porches and patios more often than you may realize.
However, weasels are often found in residential areas when forests get cut down, and more urban development is built.
Weasels Can Live In Hollowed Out Logs
Another spot that weasels tend to live is in hollowed out logs, because it’s an easy way to escape the environmental elements and store any extra food they find.
Weasels have small bodies that enable them to fit into tiny spaces, making spaces in hollowed out logs or even in trees, perfect for a weasel to hide.
Weasels do much of their food searching on the ground but do not reside usually in any wet sedge. If weasels are found in an area of wetlands, they are able to keep dry in a hollowed-out log, while being around an ample supply of small animals that live in wetlands (such as frogs, birds and rodents).
Weasels Like To Live Near Gardens And Sources Of Food
Like many smaller animals, weasels like to live near gardens and sources of food, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reports that weasels eat ⅔ of their body weight every day in meat!
Weasels are carnivores, so they only eat meat. If they’re in your garden, there’s a good chance that you may have rodents or dens of similar animals (like rabbits and squirrels) around your home.
It may be a good thing if you have a weasel and it’s taking care of your rodent situation. But like we’ve said earlier, weasels are sneaky and are mischievous. There’s a good chance that they’re not going to be the most welcoming pest to have in your garden.
Are Weasels Good To Have In Your Backyard?
The short answer is no, weasels are not good to have in your backyard.
Weasels aren’t bad to have in your backyard if you’re having a rodent issue, but at the same time, weasels are a sign of a rodent issue.
Also, they aren’t the best to have around, as they will wreak a lot of havoc in your yard as they go after animals like birds, squirrels, rabbits and frogs. If you have a chicken coop, weasels are not good to have in your backyard because they will go after your chickens and eggs.
Weasels are truly mischievous in nature and having them in your outdoor space is only going to cause you stress.
Another reason why weasels are not good to have in your backyard is because of their natural instinct to store the prey they caught. One a weasel is “full”, so to speak, they don’t just stop hunting—weasels will continue to hunt and then store any extra food.
If your yard becomes a place where weasels keep their food, this will lead to a lot of unwanted smells, and other unwanted things.
What Attracts Weasels To Live In Your Yard Anyways?
Weasels are adaptable so they can live in almost any environment, as long as the environment offers them what they need.
You may be wondering, what do weasels need? Well, we’re going to talk about that below!
Weasels Come To Live In Your Yard Because There Are Food Sources
It goes without saying that the number one reason why weasels are in your yard is because of food, and if they’re in your yard, you must have unwanted pests loitering in your outdoor space.
If your yard is filled with ample food sources, then there’s a good chance that that is the reason why weasels are hanging around.
If you live in an area with a lot of trees nearby, or near water, or near a lot of garbage even, there’s a chance that your yard is attracting a lot of pests like birds, squirrels, rabbits, frogs, mice, and rats, and in turn, attracting weasels.
If you have a swimming pool, weasels may be attracted to it, since it’s a source of water.
Weasels are not attracted to gardens and do not eat vegetables, fruits or nuts, so the reason why you’re seeing weasels in your yard or garden is most likely because they are hiding out and waiting to act on their prey.
Weasels Tend To Live Where There Are Sources Of Shelter
Weasels are also attracted to your yard for shelter purposes.
If you don’t think there’s a lot of small animals lingering around, then finding a shelter may be the reason why you’re seeing weasels.
If you live in the middle of an area where pests are plentiful, your yard may become the ultimate hideout for a weasel, which is why they are finding shelter in your backyard.
According to the University School of Michigan, depending on the availability of prey, weasels will make a territory on average to about 2.3 square miles in distance, so if your home is located within their territory, that can be why you’re seeing weasels in your backyard.
Weasels Can Like To Live Near Sources Of Heat
No matter how sneaky, and how reliant and influenced they are by food, weasels are still animals and require and like warmth.
During the winter months especially, you may see more weasels than usual as they like to keep warm when they are resting. Although weasels do not hibernate, they can sleep for more than half the day!
How To Stop Weasels From Living In Your Yard?
If you are seeing weasels in your yard, before you do any of the following, it is so important to contact a professional as soon as you can.
Weasels can be aggressive towards humans and are extremely tricky to catch because of their sly behavior.
You should also note that weasels have a defense mechanism much like a skunk where they can repel extremely poignant smells when they feel threatened.
Dealing with weasels on your own is definitely not recommended, as they are difficult to catch, come with a lot of baggage, and are aggressive.
However, after you contact a professional, there are some things you can do that will keep weasels away and prevent them from coming back to your backyard.
Here are a few other ways to get rid of weasels indefinitely!
Get Weasels To Stop Living In Your Yard By Trimming Your Grass
One of the most important things you can do to keep a weasel away is to keep up with the maintenance of your yard by trimming your grass, trimming overgrown shrubbery, and picking up any environmental debris like leaves, acorns, pinecones, and the like.
Maintaining your yard is the best way to keep weasels out of your yard because it lays the foundation of tidiness, as a lot of pests are attracted to dirty, overgrown, locations.
Which brings us to our next point…
Remove Weasels From Your Yard By Repelling Other Pests
Repelling other pests from your yard is the most fool-proof way to ensure that weasels won’t come around. Since weasels are attracted to other animals, keeping pests at bay will keep weasels away!
The first thing you have to do is figure out which kind of unwanted pests you’re dealing with, and because other pests are generally easier to deter, you will be creating a chain reaction and deterring weasels.
After you figured out which pests are in your yard, you can use scents like cayenne pepper, onion, garlic or peppermint (which are all widely hated by most pests), add automatic lights to your yard (which is usually shocking to most pests), add noise into your yard to scare them away, or add predator decoys to keep pests away as well.
Add decoys into your yard like this Flambeau Outdoor Lone Coyote Decoy, or this Hausse 3 Pack Horned Owl Decoy, as these are common predators to a lot of backyard pests and weasels! It’s really a win, win with these.
You should pair this with a motion activated light or water sprinkler to increase the chances of the stimuli being effective.
Repel Weasels With Strong Scents
There are a few scents that weasels specifically hate, like citronella and eucalyptus.
Weasels absolutely hate the smell of citronella, as the scent commonly overwhelms the olfactory gland of weasels and other pests and will make it hard for a weasel to smell and sniff out their prey.
Since the weasels rely heavily on their scent to hunt for prey, they will avoid citronella since it will mask their scent, and thus, keep them from hunting.
If you have a weasel problem, planting citronella plants generously throughout your yard, especially along its perimeter, and sporadically throughout, will help keep weasels away.
You can also use citronella in an oil form, like this HBNO Citronella Essential Oil and add droplets throughout your outdoor space, or, mix a citronella and water solution in a spray bottle and generously spray it around your yard.
Using a citronella-based repellent like this Mosquito Magician Natural Insect Repellent Concentrate Spray that uses citronella as an active ingredient will also help keep weasels and also other pests and insects away as well.
Eucalyptus is another scent that weasels absolutely hate and will stay far away from.
Eucalyptus is a very strong essential oil that is derived from the leaves of a eucalyptus plant, leaving notes of citrus, mint and honey.
By creating your own solution with drops of eucalyptus and water, and spraying this solution in weasel-prone areas, or around any dens or burrows, when the animals are not in them, will ensure the safety of all animals and will help keep weasels away from your area.
Use Sprinklers To Repel Weasels From Your Yard
Another way to keep weasels out of your yard is by using a sprinkler. Keeping a sprinkler on a timer, or putting the sprinkler on sporadically, are two great ways to keep weasels away.
Although a weasel can swim, they don’t care for water, and they will surely be confused and scared if they see water coming out of an “unknown” device.
Like we mentioned earlier, weasels do not live-in wet sledge, or within wetlands, and like to remain dry, so having a sprinkler on will help keep your grass moist, and weasels away!
Use Motion Sensing Lights To Repel Weasels From Your Yard
One last way we suggest that may help keep weasels out of your yard is to use motion-sensing lights. Although weasels can be out during the day, they are mainly nocturnal, and do a lot of their hunting at night, without light!
Installing motion sensing lights are a way to startle weasels and becoming startled will make a weasel see the area as unsafe. Furthermore, lights can be distracting to a weasel.
Weasels are most active at night and in dark spaces, so, adding lights into your yard will deter them away as it’s not their ideal condition to hunt in.
That’s A Wrap!
All in all, there’s a few things to keep in mind when seeing or dealing with weasels:
Weasels are adaptable and can live in all types of habitats as long as they offer what a weasel needs.
Weasels are influenced mainly by food and are carnivores that eat small animals. They may wind up in your yard, and if they do, contact a professional immediately.
To prevent weasels, use scents, lights, sprinklers, and maintain your property, all of which will help keep them away.
Happy weasel repelling!
Williams, Bruce H., et al. “Mustelids.” Edited by Karen A. Terio et al., Pathology of Wildlife and Zoo Animals, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Aldous, S. E., & Manweiler, J. (1942). The winter food habits of the short-tailed weasel in northern Minnesota. Journal of mammalogy, 23(3), 250-255.
Moors, P. J. (1977). Studies of the metabolism, food consumption and assimilation efficiency of a small carnivore, the weasel (Mustela nivalis L.). Oecologia, 27(3), 185-202.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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