Stoat Kits Play in My Garden | Discover Wildlife | Robert E Fuller

This is the story of wild stoat mum Hazel, who is raising her four playful kits in my garden where they enjoy fun times on my children’s trampoline and paddling pool.

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N.B.: In the US, stoats are known as short tailed weasels.

Stoat heritage

Hazel was herself born and raised here in my garden in North Yorkshire. Her mother is Bandita, a stoat famous for featuring in the TV documentary: Weasels: Feisty and Fearless. You can read about the filming of this BBC Natural World film here: /

Hazel comes

This spring, Hazel returned to the very spot where she herself was born just one year ago to give birth to her own young. I noticed her popping in and out of a hole in a gabion wall and realised that she probably had kits in there so I left some bedding straw out for her and was delighted when she took it in to her nest.

Tiny stoat kits stay hidden

For the first five weeks stoat kits are blind and helpless. Hazel kept them safely hidden. However she was unable to keep an amorous male away. Read more about the alarming breeding habits of stoats here: and you can learn more about the early stages of Hazel’s pregnancy and the birth of her kits in this live talk here: w

First glimpses of stoat kits

In June, I got the first glimpses of the stoat kits as Hazel moved them to a new location. She grabbed them by the scruff of their necks, but the skin here is stretchy and it doesn’t hurt them. As she carried them one by one to their new nest, I counted four.

Dangers abound

Stoat kits are vulnerable to predators and my garden is surrounded by open countryside. Tawny owls, rats, and foxes, are all alarmingly close-by and Hazel keeps a constant watch, ushering her kits back into the nest whenever she spots danger.

Stoat playtime

But stoat kits have inquisitive and playful natures and Hazel knows just where to take them when they get boisterous: to my childrens’ trampoline and play area. Hazel would have played on this last year when she herself was young and so it makes sense that she would bring her own kits here too.

And swimming lessons

The young stoat kits seem to love bouncing and playfighting on the stretchy surface of the trampoline – and afterwards they cool off with a lap around the paddling pool. Watch how one kit gets chased off by a very bold pied wagtail!

Fotherdale’s stoats

I’ve watched generations of stoats grow up here at Fotherdale. Read more about their fabulous characters here: /


I am a British wildlife artist and filmmaker on a mission to share my love for wildlife with the world. As well as creating detailed animal film and art portraits, I promote wildlife tours around the world and do all I can to help conserve and protect wildlife here at my home in Yorkshire. I hope that by putting nature in the frame I can foster a deep love for wildlife amongst my followers.

Of course, you may like to purchase my artwork which you can find on my website: Many of my paintings are portraits of the wonderful characters you watch here!

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© Robert E Fuller

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