Weasels are small, stealthy predators found across much of the world. But like all animals, weasels can fall prey to other predators. If you’ve wondered what eats a weasel, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Foxes, coyotes, owls, hawks, eagles, lynxes, bobcats, mountain lions, wolves, and some snakes are the main predators of weasels.

In this nearly 3,000 word guide, we’ll provide a deep dive into the diet, characteristics, and predatory behavior of animals that prey on weasels. We’ll also overview the weasel’s defenses against predators and look at differences between predators of the least weasel vs. the long-tailed weasel.

Mammalian Predators of Weasels


Foxes, especially red foxes, are one of the most common predators of weasels. As fellow small mammal predators, foxes directly compete with weasels for food sources like rabbits, rodents, and birds. When food is scarce, foxes have been known to kill and eat weasels.

In fact, examination of fox scat and stomach contents has revealed weasel fur and bones. Though weasels put up a vicious fight, the larger size of foxes typically gives them the upper hand. According to wildlife surveys, predation from foxes accounts for up to 20% of weasel deaths in some areas.


As opportunistic feeders, coyotes will prey upon weasels when given the chance. In particular, coyote pups may target juvenile weasels which can be more vulnerable. While an adult weasel’s aggressive defense makes them less desirable, coyotes have been observed killing and consuming both young and adult weasels during times of scarcity.

Interestingly, one study in California noted increased predation rates during phases of the moon with brighter illumination which allows coyotes to more easily spot and hunt weasels.

Bobcats and Lynxes

These wild cats are also known to eat weasels on occasion. A study examining the winter feeding habits of bobcats revealed that weasels made up nearly 5% of digested prey items identified in scat samples.

Though smaller than other prey like rabbits, the high metabolic rate and energy content of weasels may make them worthwhile for bobcats to catch and consume. And lynxes, though they primarily feed on hares, will opportunistically prey on smaller mammals like weasels for supplemental nutrition.


Wolf Territory Size Observed Weasel Predation Rate
Less than 25 square miles Up to 15%
25-50 square miles 5-10%
More than 50 square miles Less than 5%

Interestingly, wolf packs that inhabit smaller territories seem to hunt weasels at a higher frequency than those ranging over larger areas. Researchers believe this is due to greater scarcity and competition for prey in concentrated habitats.

Though wolves prefer to take down large game like deer, opportunistic predation on smaller mammals occurs, and weasels make for convenient supplements.

Other Mammalian Predators

In addition to the major ones covered already, weasels face threats from bears, mountain lions, and even small predators like minks. Virtually any carnivorous mammal can and will eat a weasel given the chance as they are bite-sized protein sources.

Records show everything from ermine to long-tailed weasels being found in predators’ stomachs and scat demonstrating they are vulnerable to diverse threats in the wild from top to bottom of the food chain.

Avian Predators


As nocturnal hunters, owls pose one of the biggest aerial threats to weasels. Species like the great horned owl and barred owl have powerful talons that can easily snatch a weasel from the ground. Research shows that weasels make up over 5% of barred owl diets in some regions (study).

Their exceptional night vision gives owls an edge over the darkness-loving weasel.

One fascinating tactic used by long-eared owls is mimicking the sound of a lethal threat like a barking fox. This frightens weasels into freezing in place, making them prime targets. While not all owls utilize this clever trick, their stealthy ambush approach still reaps success.

Statistics from pellet analysis reveal weasels in up to 18% of long-eared owl diets (analysis).


Speedy hawks like the Cooper’s hawk and sharp-shinned hawk outpace weasels in flight. These accelerate predators use the element of surprise to snatch rodents and small mammals in daring daylight raids.

While most hawks hunt birds and rabbits, opportunists like the Northern goshawk aren’t afraid of tackling a quick weasel if given the chance.

One sneaky trick hawks utilize is bursting from high perches to ambush prey below. This gives them an aerial edge to strike before the weasel detects them. While hawks don’t primarily subsist on weasels, their ruthlessness and razor-sharp talons pose a lethal threat from above.


While not as agile as hawks and owls, formidable eagles like the golden and bald eagle have enough power to make weasels prey. Their tremendous size and gripping strength allows them to snatch seemingly unlikely animals.

One vivid video captured a bald eagle swooping down to grab a swimming deer (see here)! This shows that mighty eagles can take most mammals when needed.

During winter months when fish become scarce, eagles switch to preying on rodents and mustelids near waterways. One study in Scotland found weasel remains in 11% of white-tailed eagle nests after salmon populations declined (analysis).

Though not regular prey, eagles pose an ever-present danger from their high vantage points.

Reptilian Predators


Snakes are one of the most common reptilian predators of weasels in the wild. As nimble hunters, weasels often fall prey to stealthy serpents. Here’s an overview of the main snake species that hunt weasels:

  • Rattlesnakes – These venomous pit vipers are ambush predators that will snatch up unsuspecting weasels. With lightning-fast reflexes, rattlesnakes can strike and inject their hemotoxic venom in the blink of an eye. Weasels bitten by rattlesnakes quickly succumb to the effects of the nerve toxins.
  • King snakes – Powerful constrictors, king snakes subdue and suffocate weasels in their crushing coils. These efficient predators track weasels by scent and hunt them in burrows and crevices where they take refuge.
  • Garter snakes – Though small, garter snakes are opportunistic predators that can overwhelm young or sickly weasels with their venom. They tend to lurk near the entrances of weasel dens, snatching any that venture out.
  • Racers – These speedy serpents pursue weasels above ground, using their lightning-quick movements to snare them. They dispatch weasels with a swift bite.

Snakes employ an array of hunting strategies to capture weasels, from venomous bites to bone-crushing constriction. Their stealthy, silent movements allow them to strike before weasels can react. Weasels’ slim forms make them the perfect size meal for various snake species.

With reptilian predators lurking everywhere from underground tunnels to tree branches, weasels face constant threats when venturing outside their dens.

According to wildlife experts, over 20 species of snakes across America prey on weasels. In the Southwest, sidewinders and mojave rattlesnakes pose the greatest danger. In the Southeast, copperheads and cottonmouths hunt among aquatic environments.

Kingsnakes, racers, and garter snakes prey on weasels coast-to-coast. Generally, the larger the snake, the greater risk it poses to weasels due to larger venom loads and stronger constricting power.

To avoid becoming snake food, weasels rely on their speed and stealth. Their slender bodies allow them to dart quickly through tunnels and bushes evading snake strikes. Weasels are fast enough to target a snake’s head and deliver an immobilizing or killing bite before being envenomed.

Their brown camouflaged fur blends into surroundings, aiding surprise attacks. Still, snakes manage to catch many weasels off guard each year, especially juveniles.

Ultimately, snakes and weasels are locked in an endless evolutionary arms race, each adapting their hunting techniques to gain the upper hand. Even with all their tricks, weasels inevitably fall prey to snakes fairly often. But these feisty mustelids won’t go down without a fight!

Weasel Defenses Against Predation

Stealth and Camouflage

Weasels rely heavily on their stealth and ability to blend into their surroundings to avoid becoming prey themselves (National Geographic). Their slender bodies allow them to sneak through tunnels and hide in tiny crevices where larger predators cannot reach.

Their brown fur provides excellent camouflage in the forests and fields where they hunt. In fact, it can be difficult to spot a motionless weasel when it is crouched down in the brush or tangled roots of a tree!

Agility and Speed

Weasels are extremely fast and agile creatures, capable of running at speeds over 25 km/hr for short bursts (NHPTV). This allows them to quickly chase down small prey like mice or rabbits. It also helps them evade larger predators when caught out in the open.

Weasels can swiftly dart from hiding spot to hiding spot, using their flexible bodies to rapidly change direction. Their speed and agility gives them a critical advantage when trying to avoid becoming food for a hungry fox, coyote, owl or hawk!


Despite their diminutive size, weasels are remarkably ferocious. An angry or cornered weasel will emit a loud warning shriek and aggressively defend itself. Weasels have even been known to chase off animals much larger than themselves when threatened, thanks to their tenacity.

Their sharp teeth can deliver painful bites, discouraging would-be predators. While a weasel may not win in a standoff with a wolf for example, their intense ferocity often makes them more trouble than they are worth to pursue as prey.

Essentially, weasels punch well above their weight class with their spirited feistiness!

Differences Between Predators of Least vs. Long-Tailed Weasels

When it comes to predators, the least weasel and long-tailed weasel face both similarities and differences. As tiny yet ferocious mustelids, these two species must constantly be on high alert to avoid becoming prey themselves.

Predators of the Least Weasel

Living primarily in grasslands, fields, and meadows, some key predators that feast on the least weasel include foxes, coyotes, owls, hawks, and snakes. Weighing only about 25 grams fully grown, the least weasel is a bite-sized meal for opportunistic predators.

One study found that remains of the least weasel were found in 11% of barn owl pellets in one region, making owls one of their top predators. However, the least weasel’s small size, speed, and stealth allow it to successfully evade predators much of the time.

Predators of the Long-Tailed Weasel

Inhabiting burrows and dens in brush, forests, and semi-aquatic regions, the long-tailed weasel faces similar key predators, including foxes, coyotes, owls, hawks, and snakes. However, this larger mustelid may also sometimes fall prey to mountain lions, bobcats, lynx, and wolverines.

One threatened predator of the long-tailed weasel is the highly endangered eastern spotted skunk. As relatives in the Mustelidae family, these two species compete for similar habitats and food sources, bringing them into conflict at times.

Key Differences in Predator Threats

While least and long-tailed weasels share many of the same predators, some key differences include:

  • The smaller least weasel is more vulnerable to a wider range of predators, while the long-tailed weasel’s larger size helps protect it from some smaller raptors.
  • The primarily terrestrial least weasel faces more predation from sly foxes and coyotes, while the semi-aquatic long-tailed weasel is less exposed to these canine hunters.
  • With a more varied habitat range, the long-tailed weasel may sometimes have to contend with larger predators like big cats and wolverines that do not typically hunt the field-dwelling least weasel.

While challenging to study, these differences in size, habitat, range, and behavior likely influence variations in predator threats between these two cunning Mustelidae species, the least and long-tailed weasels.


Weasels may be small, but they have their fair share of predators looking to make a meal of them. Their best defenses are stealth, speed, and ferocity. But foxes, coyotes, birds of prey, bobcats, and other predators at times succeed in hunting down these feisty mustelids.

Hopefully this guide has helped shed light on the complex predator-prey relationships of weasels. Let us know if you have any other questions!

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