Sunday, September 07, 2008
When Y came out to collect him we heard this loud chattering coming from beneath the shed. Then a stoat peeked out at us and kept chattering as he ran back and forth under the shed, peering out at us from various openings. This guy seemed pretty curious about us and continued to pop out and stare at us for quite some time, before finally disappearing.
Stoats are also known as ermines; in the winter their coats turn pure white. A few years ago I thought I'd glimpsed a long thin white critter skimming along a snowbank near that shed, but I wasn't sure and never saw another trace. Since stoats live for 10 years, this could be the same one.
After consulting the trusty internet (when I was a kid, we used our Encyclopedia Britannica set) we learned some interesting facts about stoats: These cute little critters are in fact vicious killers; smaller than ferrets, they even prey on rabbits. But their usual diet consists of mice, voles, rats, birds, insects. I've always wondered why we have no mice sneaking in under the garage door to raid the cat and dog food supplies. Stoats can climb trees and run down the trunks like squirrels. No wonder the swallows avoid all the birdhouses. That might also explain why there are no rabbits around here.
At first we assumed that the stoat was complaining because we'd let the cat get close to its hideout. Now, though, I wonder if it wasn't actually telling us off because we'd recaptured the cat and taken away a rather substantial feast...