Irish Stoat Survey
What is the Irish Stoat Survey?
We are appealing to members of the public to submit their sightings, alive or dead, of the Irish stoat throughout the island of Ireland. Find out how you can submit a sighting below. Although this survey will only run to the end of 2024, we would encourage anyone to continue to submit records of the Irish stoat beyond then as this will continue to provide valuable species information.
The survey was created in partnership with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording in Northern Ireland and University of Galway.
What is an Irish stoat?
The Irish stoat is related to the otter, badger and pine marten but is the smallest of these, being similar in size to a rat. Its fur is chestnut brown on the back and head and creamy-white on the belly. It has a long thin sinuous body, short legs and a distinctive black tip to the tail. It occurs in a wide variety of habitats but prefers woodland or scrub. It is active day and night and can kill prey several times its own weight, up to the size of and including rabbits.
Although the Irish stoat is often referred to as a weasel, there are no weasels in Ireland. To find out more about the Irish stoat, please check out the species profile on our website.
The Irish stoat can be mistaken for other small mustelids, particularly at dusk or when it is moving quickly. VWT has developed an ID guide to differentiate the Irish stoat from pine marten, mink, ferret and otter. Download it here:
Why the Irish stoat?
Despite the fact that the Irish stoat is believed to have been continually present on the island of Ireland for at least 12,500 years, there is little reliable information on its population and, prior to the start of this survey, only 2,000 records were recorded in our national database. They are elusive mammals, which are rarely seen, and who leave few field tracks and signs, such as hair or droppings. They are seldom detected by other monitoring methods such as camera traps.
We hope this survey will encourage people to submit sightings of alive and dead stoats so that we can fill in the gaps in their distribution and learn more about stoat ecology.
Who can get involved?
Anyone can get involved and no prior experience is required. However, you will need access to a computer or smartphone to submit your sighting.
If you spot a stoat, please submit your sighting to one of the following data centres:
The National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) for sightings in the Republic of Ireland
- Submit a sighting via the NBDC project page here. Alternatively, download their recording app for android or iphone ‘Biodiversity Data Capture’ and record on the go.
The Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR) for sightings in Northern Ireland
- Submit a sighting here
If you can, please include a photograph or video of the animal to help with verification and recording.
Alternatively, you can contact us via email@example.com and share your sighting information with us. We will then submit your record information to the appropriate record centre detailed above.
Irish stoat ©Dermot Breen
What we will do with the information that is collected
The records submitted will provide valuable baseline data on the distribution and status of the Irish stoat, which may then be used to highlight potential conservation concerns.
We will also identify areas where there are fewer or no records submitted. This will enable us to target further survey effort through reaching out to local communities and carrying out fieldwork if required.
Once all the records have been collated after the end of the survey period (end of 2024), an updated distribution map will be published and shared in 2025.
Following the completion of the project, we will also produce a report detailing the National Irish Stoat Survey, including a summary of the findings and potential next steps to continue our learning and make recommendations for the future conservation of the Irish stoat.
No personal information will be made public or shared with other organisations.
Follow the Irish Stoat Survey social media pages and share our appeal for sightings.
Financial assistance for this survey was provided by the Irish Environmental Network and National Parks and Wildlife Service.