Everything You Need To Know About How To Control Weasels
You’ve had a long day at work and are extremely tired. Finally, you get to bed and are just falling asleep when you are startled by shrill squeaking noises, chirps or screeches. You have a problem and you need to know how to get rid of a weasel. They are small, cute creatures that are members of the Mustelidae family. They have short legs, a brown coat with a white underbelly, a small, narrow head and a long, trim body.
While the sounds they make during the night when they are out and about are disturbing, if you have any chickens on your property, the cost can be even greater. Weasels are often the culprits when you wake in the morning to find, sadly, some dead chickens and missing or destroyed eggs. The same goes for anyone with outdoor rabbit cages. They aren’t safe from weasels either. It can be very upsetting as weasels will often kill more chickens or rabbits than they can eat which is such a waste.
Weasels can also be a danger to humans in rare cases. They are small but they have sharp claws and teeth. When provoked or cornered, they will usually try to retreat but if they do fight back, those teeth and claws can cause some damage. They carry bacteria in their mouths so if you are unlucky enough to get bitten, the risk of infection of the bite site is high. The weasel can also carry diseases, like rabies which is fatal if untreated in humans.
Let’s explore the various methods of how to get rid of a weasel. What are some home remedies for getting rid of weasels that almost anyone can try?
Signs You Have A Weasel Problem
In order to move forward with the weasel removal methods, we first need to make sure that they are the culprits. There are certain signs you can look for to determine and confirm that the problem you are having is with a weasel and not with something else like bobcats or foxes.
First of all, the easiest way to know if your problem is with weasels is by seeing one. As described they are small with short legs, medium to long tail, brown and white and have a long flexible body. If you see the weasel presence on your property then you are safe to assume they are the ones causing you problems.
If you haven’t seen one, another sign of weasel presence is dead chickens or rabbits. Other predators may also kill these animals but it’s the method of the kill we want to focus on. Weasels will kill their prey with a bite to the back of the neck. They prefer to consume the brains, organs and muscles. If your chickens have a bite at their necks and visible bites near organs then the chances are good that a weasel has paid a visit. Weasels will also steal or destroy eggs.
If you have dirt or snow on the ground and can see the intruder’s footprints, this will help you narrow it down too. Weasels have small footprints with 5 toes and claws. Depending on the softness of the ground and whether or not the area is intact, you should be able to clearly count the toes and confirm the claws.
Weasels can release a foul-smelling odor to ward off their predators and to mark their territories. If you smell something musky and potent in the area, then that’s another indication of a weasel.
If you can confirm their presence by one or more of these signs, then you should read on to learn how to get rid of a weasel.
Limit Their Food Source
The main motivation for a weasel ending up on your property is food. They have voracious appetites due to their high metabolism and low body fat. The typical weasel will consume a small meal 5-10 times a day which means most of their time, day and night, is spent in search of food.
The weasel’s favorite food is mice. They will also eat voles, birds and insects if necessary. If you are plagued with an infestation of mice, then the chances are good you will develop a weasel infestation as well. They go where the food is abundant so limiting their food source is key to getting rid of weasels.
If you know you have a problem with mice, begin a trapping program and limit the food source of the mice. Don’t leave any crumbs, scraps or unsealed food around. Since weasels are persistent when they find a food source, they will remain in the area until the food is gone. It’s your job to remove it to force them to move on.
Aside from their natural, wild diet of mice and other rodents, weasels are opportunistic. They will feed on any protein-rich food if we leave it out for them. This includes our food scraps and pet food as well as any rabbit or chicken feed. As carnivores, they eat meat almost exclusively so at least if you are growing and an edible garden full of vegetables, herbs and fruit, it should be safe from the weasel’s belly. Just don’t leave your garbage out for longer than absolutely necessary and keep all pet food indoors and sealed in an airtight container.
Weasels also need access to a water source in their territory to be comfortable. While you can’t help it if you live near a river or lake, you can help any water you may have on your own property. Avoid kiddie pools, bird baths and any other places a weasel might help himself to some water from you.
Get A Cat
One of the easiest home remedies for getting rid of weasels is to get a cat. That is, if you like cats. An outdoor cat patrolling your yard will help to prevent weasel infestations in two different ways. Plus you get to have a cat. What a great solution!
The first way an outdoor cat will help with weasels is by killing mice. As mentioned, this is their main food source so if they are competing with a feisty cat, the once abundant mice will decrease and hopefully get the weasel to move on. If nothing else, it will be an additional competitor for the same amount of food.
Cats will also assist because they are a natural predator of the weasel. Weasels know this and will more than likely steer clear of your property if it has been scent marked thoroughly by your cat or they can see a hungry looking cat lounging on the patio. A tasty meal just wouldn’t be worth the risk.
If you’re not ready for the responsibility of a cat, it’s likely that your neighborhood already has a number of cats wandering around. When these cats enter your property, don’t try to discourage them. They don’t know it but they’ll be helping you with your weasel problem.
The basic principle here is to encourage the weasel’s predators onto your property. The cat is really your best option, especially when you know the alternatives. The other predators of the weasel are foxes, bobcats, snakes and other weasels. You don’t really want these animals on your property, especially near your chickens or rabbits. Also, encouraging more weasels onto your property to combat weasels just doesn’t make sense.
Remove Hiding and Nesting Places
Another good step you can take to prevent an influx of weasels is to remove their hiding and nesting places. When they hunt, they need cover to ambush their prey and they prefer to move around under cover through things like shrubs.
Keep your property’s landscape well maintained. Cut your grass regularly and don’t leave the trimmings hanging around. Dead grass is a favorite nesting material of weasels and long grass will provide them cover in which to move around undetected by prey.
Remove any clutter or unnecessary structures from your back and front yards. Weasels will hide or nest in things like woodpiles and old debris. Some species, like the least weasel, will also nest in tree stumps so you should remove those too.
If a weasel doesn’t have cover to hunt effectively, he will go hungry and you guessed it, without food, he will probably be on his way in search of the next place rich with mice.
You should also check your property every little while to see if you have any small animal burrows. If they are unused, as opportunists, a weasel may decide to move in. They prefer abandoned burrows so they don’t have to do all the work themselves. If you do find one, seal it up by filling it tightly with dirt or gravel. Since weasels can burrow, make it as tightly packed as possible. You want to at least make it hard for them to re-use the burrow.
Build A Fence
It may sound obvious and you may already have a fence, but you need to build a specific fence to get rid of weasels. Weasels can fit through holes 1” (2.5cm) in diameter. I bet if you looked around at your fence there might be a few holes of this size – whether it’s your property line fence or the fence surrounding your chickens.
The real trick with this home remedy is to build the RIGHT fence. While you can’t have holes larger than 1″, weasels are also known to burrow. They can burrow right under the fence if it isn’t sunken.
Without having to build a new fence if you already have one, you can patch the holes with wire mesh (screen). This is available at most home improvement and farm supply stores. Don’t use chicken wire to keep weasels out. The holes can be large enough for a small weasel to fit through, believe it or not.
You can also electrify your fence to add an extra barrier of protection. This is a last resort as an electric fence can be dangerous and requires a lot of maintenance. Place the electrified wire close to the ground as weasels will usually get low to the ground when they hunt. Keep the fence free of any weeds. Moist plant material touching the wire can short it out. Electric fences are also difficult to maintain in the snow. It’s up to you whether you think this is a necessary component of your weasel proof fence. Just be careful.
Another one of the home remedies for getting rid of weasels is to live trap them. You entice them into the trap and then move them on their way. Trapping of weasels will be most effective if you can bury the traps, at least a little bit and cover them with some foliage to make them seem more natural. You want the weasel to feel comfortable around and ultimately in the trap.
You can purchase a trap from a farm or hunting store and make sure you select one that is the correct size for the weasel. If they can’t fit completely in it then it will be useless. Place the traps in areas where you have seen the weasels or where there is evidence of their presence.
You will need to bait the trap with meat. Use raw meat or even cat food. Cat food works well as it is often aromatic and the weasel will smell it easily. Make sure that you place the food well into the trap at the opposite end of the entrance. That way they have to be completely inside to get to the prize and the one way door will close keeping them safely inside.
Live trapping is humane as long as you don’t leave the weasel in the trap too long. You should check the trap as often as possible but at least once in the morning (since they are more active at night) and once in the evening before you go to bed (they are most active during the twilight hours).
It’s also possible to trap a different kind of animal in the trap which is why it’s so important to check. If you’re baiting with cat food you may end up accidentally trapping the neighbor’s cat. Checking often will see him freed quicker and returned to his worried owners.
So you’ve checked the trap and you’ve caught your weasel. Now you need to set him free. Take the weasel far from your home and other homes to a new location. An open field near a river is ideal since it is the perfect place to hunt for mice and also has a water source. You want this weasel to be happy where he is so he doesn’t venture back to disturb any other people’s property.
Once you have caught and relocated one weasel, it is a good idea to set the trap again for at least a few days. This is just in case another weasel has now ventured into the old weasel’s territory. If you don’t catch anything or see any new signs, you’re likely safe from the weasel infestation.
If you happen to get one inside your home then the best home remedy to get rid of a weasel is to trap it. The same instructions above apply inside as well except for burying it and the foliage.
Weasel-Proof Your Home
If you are worried about a weasel sneaking into your home, there is definitely something you can do. The main way to keep them out is to exclude them. This means scouring your house for any holes with a diameter of 1” (2.5cm) or greater and sealing them with spray foam and mesh screen. This can be a labor-intensive process but the good news is that this will also exclude any mice from your home. You get to prevent two problems with one solution.
If you need help, there are many professional pest control companies that can assist you with this task. Prices will vary but most will be able to provide you an accurate quote up front.
Learning how to get rid of a weasel was easy, wasn’t it? Apply these tips and you can look forward to happy, safe chickens and rabbits, a better night’s sleep and freedom from the risk of a confrontation with an angry weasel. Remember that through all of this, weasels aren’t all bad. They do a good job of keeping mice populations low so that’s something. There’s a place for everything but a weasel’s place is not in your backyard.