Weasel Tracks

Early this morning when I went out to the barn, I noticed Lily sniffing in the snow. I went over to see what interested her and found these tracks.


A weasel. I’m not knowledgeable enough to know which member of the mustelidae family it was. I rely on Tracking and the Art of Seeing by Paul Rezendes to guide me. My best guess is that the visitor was a long-tailed weasel, a lithe and agile predator, that turns the color of snow in the winter.

Least weasel by Marko Kivelä

Least weasel by Marko Kivelä

It was 10 degrees F this morning when I told Steve about the tracks. While I drank my coffee, he went out with the camera to see if the tracks would reveal a story. They did.

The weasel came onto the property by climbing a tree and then jumping onto the Small Barn’s fence post.

from tree

It leapt from post to post,


and then landed lightly on the ground,

post to ground

hurried along the front of the Big Barn, sat a spell on the Adirondack chair,


crossed the yard, traveled along the top of the perennial flower garden’s fence,

low fence

and disappeared into the woods.

The chickens were closed up safely for the night, which is a good thing, or there’d be fewer hens this morning.


  1. Terry – what do you use to cover your runs? I’m using bird netting, which looks more fragile than this.

    • It’s hawk netting. But, it doesn’t matter how tight you attach it, weasels can slip in and raccoons will tear it off. It does deter hawks, though.

      • If the hens are closed up safely in their coop,and a weasel or raccon gets into the run, will the hens be safe?

        • Weasels can slip through small holes, so you have to make sure that there are no openings (like mouse holes) for the weasels to get in. My coops have concrete floors and are totally secure. If you have a dirt floor, there will be tunnels in.

  2. Someone told me a few years ago that a weasel had gotten into their coop and killed all the hens. They are dangerous rascals.

  3. GREAT tracker!! I have 2 copies of Paul’s book–one to continually loan out. Best tracking book EVER.
    I had an experience with a ermine last month. The main reason they hang around is for the mice. Yes, they could kill your hens if they were hungry enough, BUT they really do prefer the mice, mole and vole population.
    Come on over and read the adventure.
    My neighbor trapped one in her house last week. It was living in her attic….eating mice.
    Now that the ermine has been removed, her kitchen is infested with mice and mice poop.
    Lesson learned.
    Great post. Sharing!
    Janis in Vermont

    • I had the great good fortune of being able to take a tracking class from Paul years ago. He doesn’t see tracks as static things, instead, each animal’s trail is like an animated ribbon of color. And, I agree about the value of these predators.

  4. I learn a lot about protecting my rabbits and my lone chicken from your site. I saw that you wrote you use “hawk netting” for the roof areas. I cannot find any wire/netting that looks similar. I really need it. Right now no one is allowed out of cages unless a human is right there, due to a large amount of big hawks suddenly in the area. Any company you can name or what the wire/netting is made out of?

  5. Good dog, Lily, for inspiring this post. Thank you Steve, for tracking your little visitor. These are excellent evidentiary photos, too. :)

  6. I had an one and half pound albino ferret as child for six years and he was only about 14 inches long. He would regularly beat up our fifteen pound and twenty pound cats at the time. So I am not suprised that a weasel weighing than a third of ferret Rikki could kill chickens and rabbits, let alone a cat or a small dog. Toby and Cleo learned quite quickly that even Rikki was little, he was quick and smart and had very very sharp teeth. That’s why you can see a ferret take on a large dog and that dog will be afraid of them. And why you can’t keep any prey like pets near ferrets.

  7. The netting looks great and I look forward to using it soon. thank you and good luck with your weasel..he is a tiny bit cute :)

  8. I had a weasel attack that killed all 4 of my very large geese. They jump on their backs and bite the back of the neck. It was a long tailed weasel. I am in NH. Love your hem cam…my project for 2013.

  9. They are fearless and will keep coming back once they find a food source. We lost four hens to a weasel. Do you ever worry about them coming out during the day?

  10. I read today’s blog with much interest. I have had a weasel hanging about since fall. My coop is secure but I still worry about my hens during the day. I went out and bought a have-a-heart trap, put some nice bloody hamburger in it; came out the next morning – no hamburger, trap still open! They are clever creatures. I do have to say this is the first year we haven’t had a population of voles tunneling under the snow near the bird feeders!

    I continue to worry about my hens and won’t let them out (when the weather is warm enough, which hasn’t been very often this winter!) unless I am home to keep an eye out. I also an curious, will weasels attack during the day? (I also have a little 7lb Pomeranian, as well as two larger dogs. Is my little Pom at risk?).

    • According to what I’ve read, is most active at night, but also hunts during the day. They can take down large rabbits, and even, as one of the comments here said, geese. I worry about little Scooter. He’s never allowed out without Lily to keep watch.