What do weasels eat in captivity

Mouse weasel

Mouse weasels are often confused with the ermine. Here you will find the subtle differences: mix-ups
In our team, Andrea W. has developed into a weasel specialist (mouse weasel and ermine) over the years. For questions about rearing and reintroduction into the wild, she is available by email during the main season: mauswiesel (ät) marderhilfsnetz.de (please do not report emergencies by email, as this email address is not read several times a day!)
The rearing:

Basically similar to that of the ermine.

Visually, the weasel differs only slightly from the ermine. However, the mouse weasel is significantly smaller and the white belly can have patterns and dots.

For very young weasels - less than 3 weeks old - we recommend rearing milk again.

The teeth are already developing when the eyes are still closed. The opening of the eyes begins in the second week - in the case of hand-rearing this can also be done later (only from the third week). First of all, rearing milk and kitten food can be given alternately. However, never mix them together - causes bad stomach ache and diarrhea. Either switch to the Animonda straight away or wait at least 1 hour between milk and feed.

Make feed porridge:
As soon as the first teeth are in place, you can switch to solid food. The best way to do this is to use “Animonda kitten food” - in small bowls. However, since this is often too coarse, it is advisable to press the food through a tea strainer with a teaspoon. The paste obtained holds very well if you fill it into a 5 ml syringe and store it in the refrigerator. The paste can be dosed well on a warmed teaspoon with every meal (initially a pea-sized amount, later a hazelnut-sized one) The little ones then munch it away in no time at all.

If the Animonda porridge is well received over several days, you can start offering mini or baby mice. Please give a little help at first (e.g. open the underside of the mice's stomach a little)
Adolescent weasels need at least 33% of their body weight in food and should gain weight relatively quickly.

When “dropping their excrement”, the weasels are also quicker to clean than the martens. As soon as solid food is given, they leave the nest to drop their poop - but then do not find their way back into it immediately. Give help here more often. Warmth is still very important, due to their very small size they cool down much faster than other baby animals.

Our recommendations
Milk / teaFirst always a tea mixture of fennel and chamomile, then Royal Canin kitten or puppy rearing milk or Gimpet rearing milk, 1 ml syringe
Liningas soon as there are teeth -> Animonda Kitten bowls as porridge, later small mice, no fruit, no vitamin pastes, live food is not absolutely necessary
rearingFeeding, stomach massage, appropriate heat (body heat), keep away from cats, accommodation is best in a transport box (ball box), linen or fleece (no terry), no hay or straw, no cat litter
Release1-3 weeks at the future reintroduction site -> small animal barn approx. 1-2 square meters, pay attention to the thickness of the bars; Free access by the hour in company; continue feeding at a fixed place (in the enclosure)
Only childPossible with the Wiesel - better in pairs
MedicationParasite remedies are unnecessary - even extremely intolerable, collect fleas and ticks (never apply spot ons), antibiotics and painkillers are very difficult to dose due to body weight.
Habitat:

After the badger, the weasel is the most widespread. It can occur in almost any type of habitat. Territory size varies between 2 and 25 hectares.

The weasel tolerates drugs such as deworming agents and spot-on preparations extremely poorly. Here, too, we could no longer help some of those seeking help. 2010: Just a few hours after applying a spot on against fleas, 2 weasels from a litter of 6 babies died. The others died in turn within 12 hours.

Injuries from cats:

Occasionally house cats catch a weasel and bring it home. In rare cases the animal is completely uninjured and quickly recovers. Unfortunately, cats' teeth are extremely contaminated with bacteria and the smallest tooth scratch leads to infection. In 99% this means the death of the weasel. Antibiotics from the vet would be promising in and of themselves, but: The stress at the vet and the injection can already lead to stress death. If the dosage is not 100% perfect, it will put an end to the animal. In addition, time is playing tricks on us. The bacterial infection spreads very quickly in the body. An injured weasel usually dies within 24 hours - often earlier.
Therefore our tip: Put weasels in an escape-proof box. Put in some water and wet cat food. Put the box in the dark and at room temperature. Quiet and darkness are urgently needed after the shock! Our mouse weasel expert Andrea only recommends trying homeopathy: Dissolve 1 globule each of Phosphorus D200 and Arsenicum album C200 in a few drops of water and drop it into the mouth with a syringe (of course without a needle). If it then dies anyway, it is usually rolled over, asleep - without much ado. Often they even eat something shortly beforehand.
Will it survive the 24 hours, you can add another day to make sure that you are fit. Then let it out near the site at dusk. It has its territory here and therefore its apartment nearby. Especially before winter it would be difficult to find sleeping quarters anywhere else. The risk of falling victim to a cat again is now significantly lower. Wieselchen is also learning too!

Age determination:

This weasel is only a few days old. The umbilical cord was already slightly dried but still there. The milk quantities are still below the 1 ml limit. However, the frequency of milk administration should not be less than 2 hours.

These weasels are around 8-10 days old. The fur on the back is now gray and the gradation to the light underside of the abdomen is clearly visible. They weigh 6/7 grams and the lower canines will erupt in 10-12 days.

From about 14 days onwards, the weasels eat their first meat meal. They continue to drink rearing milk. In nature they are suckled up to about 8 weeks, possibly even a little longer.

The eyes open after about 21-25 days. The fur is now thicker, the white underside as well, and brown hairs are growing increasingly on the upper side.

This weasel is around 30-35 days old. The fur is fully developed, the tail "bushy". It is already very nimble and eats mice without any problems.

These adolescents are already romping, climbing and fighting. It is not far until they are released into the wild.

The release:

The rearing is great fun. As soon as the little ones are allowed to run outside, they make extremely rapid progress. For the first steps outdoors, a small enclosure should be available, which should be set up as quietly as possible and away from the house. First quarter here by the hour, later longer and after a few days permanently. If the dwarf then climbs well and knows his way around the enclosure well, it can explore the area for hours through an opening in the enclosure. This type of enclosure should, however, last a maximum of 3 weeks before the weasel is given permanent free exit. As long as it still comes and the food picks up or even spends the night there, it should continue to be fed. Experience shows, however, that it does not take very long until it looks for its own place and finally stays away.

This is what a perfect reintroduction enclosure could look like. After a week in the enclosure, the weasel can go in and out of its own accord through a small hole in the wooden wall.
However, with a little less effort, a smaller enclosure can also be sufficient - you can see photos of the smaller version under “Identification of ermine”.

The height is not so important. Since its prey can mainly be found on the ground, it usually stays down there. The furnishings should, however, be species-appropriate: roots, soil, leaves, stones, etc. In this way, such an enclosure can be designed in a visually very appealing way. But please never think of keeping the animal there. Like every wild animal, it is only happy in the long run in freedom. With territory sizes of up to 50 hectares, one can easily imagine how such an enclosure prison affects the psyche in the long term.