Wild Animals/weasels


I live outside a small village in the Aveyron, south of France (300 metres altitude) with a cat. In the last three months, for the first time, I have found two dead weasels lying on paths near the house. There are no obvious signs of attack, nor attempts to eath the. What would have killed them?
And, is it a coincidence that since the appearance of dead weasels largescale mole activity has begun?

Many thanks if you have time and patience to answer.

Regards, Martin

Dear Martin

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

http://a-z-animals.com/animals/weasel/ says that owls, hawks, eagles, foxes and snakes and domestic cats and dogs all prey on weasels. I doubt if the birds would waste energy in catching the weasels and leaving them, unless the birds were scared away. I would also expect the snakes to eat the weasels.

Domestic cats often kill animals without eating them (http://www.ifish.net/board/showthread.php?t=250807). There is a chance that the weasels you found were left by cats, although cats often return to their homes and show the prey to their owners. http://www.thefoxwebsite.net/faq/ruralfoxproblems#q1 says that foxes do not need to be hungry to kill prey.   

http://nurturing-nature.co.uk/wildlife/the-mystery-of-the-dead-moles-can-you-sol says that weasels will prey on moles.

There are several examples of animal populations rising if their predators are reduced. Joe Scott has written the following article: http://www.conservationnw.org/what-we-do/predators-and-prey/carnivores-predators. It shows that predator-prey interactions are quite complicated.

The death of two weasels would have minimal impact on the local mole population. I can't tell if the two dead weasels reflect a general decline in the local weasel population. An increase in weasel predator numbers, such as more domestic cats and dogs, could affect the weasel population and thus affect the mole population.
I think that foxes or domestic cats killed the weasels, but there is not enough information to show a link with moles. http://www.mole-catcher.co.uk/mole-questions.php says that moles seem to be more active in winter as they work nearer the surface. This suggests that seeing the dead weasels is a coincidence, as the moles would have been active anyway.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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