Family Tree

Hunting behaviour

In this issue we're going to look into the hunting behaviour of the Mustelidae family members:

  • Otter Lutra lutra
  • Badger Meles meles
  • Pine Marten Martes martes
  • Mink Neovison vison
  • Polecat Mustela putorius
  • Stoat Mustela erminea
  • Weasel Mustela nivalis


Mustelids are primarily carnivorous, but some species may also eat plants. Many mustelids are opportunistic feeders, but others can be specialists. They hunt in a variety of habitats, such as terrestrial, arboreal and aquatic.

Hunting techniques


Weasels, stoats and polecats are solitary hunters with fierce concentration, searching for weak prey such as mice, voles, rabbits and small birds. They adapt their methods according to their targets and opportunities.


Pine marten’s sense of hearing, sight and smell are all excellent. As a skilful predator and climber, it has sharp canine teeth and semi-retractable claws, being the only member of the mustelid family to have this feature.


They can be found beside rivers, lakes and streams. Although otters can also be seen along the west coast of Scotland. Otters feed primarily on fish, and minks on small mammals (water vole) and birds (especially chicks and ducklings).

European Badger

Badgers are opportunistic foragers and omnivorous, feeding mainly on earthworms. Diet varies according to different factors such as food availability, types of habitat within territory, season of the year and weather.

Other Spring Articles

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