University of Missouri Extension

MX135, Reviewed October 1993

Controlling Nuisance: Weasels

MU Extension
Missouri Department of Conservation
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Weasels are short-legged, slender, predatory animals measuring seven to 23 inches in length. Possessing scent glands, weasels belong to the same family as martens, minks, otters, skunks, badgers and wolverines. Weasels are found throughout the state but are not common. Two different species — least and long-tailed — are found in Missouri. The upper parts of these animals are yellowish to dark brown; under parts, white with yellow tint. Winter pelage of northern forms is usually white except for a black tip on the tail. The white coat is a fur known as ermine. Missouri allows trapping during a designated season.

These small predators are fearless fighters and do not hesitate to attack victims many times larger than themselves. Their principal food consists of small rodents, but larger mammals, cold-blooded vertebrates, birds and insects may be taken. At times they raid poultry houses at night and cause severe losses of domestic fowl.


Weasels have a curious nature and are rather easily trapped in number 0 or number 1 steel traps. Professional trappers in thickly settled areas use an inverted wooden box a foot or two long, such as an apple box, with a 2- to 3-inch diameter opening cut out in the lower part of both ends. Dribble a trail of oats or other grain through the box. Mice will frequent it to eat the grain and weasels will investigate the scent of mice. A trap should be set directly under the hole at each end of the box. Keep the trap pan tight to prevent the mice from setting off the trap.

Traps set in old brush piles, under outbuildings, under fences and along stone walls also are suggested, since the weasel is likely to investigate any small covered area. Trap sets should be protected by objects such as boards or tree limbs to prevent harming other forms of wildlife.

Weasels also can be captured in live traps. Fresh meat is suitable bait.

MX135 Controlling Nuisance: Weasels | University of Missouri Extension

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