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Slim and furry Stoat named Swiss animal of the year for 2018

A stoat in high grass

The stoat lives in open fields with hedges and stones but its habitat has been under pressure in Switzerland

(blickwinkel/S. Gerth)

The short-tailed weasel, also known as the stoat or ermine, has been chosen as Switzerland’s animal of the year by the nature conservation organisation, Pro Natura.

The slim mammal used to be widespread in Switzerland, but its habitat in lower-lying regions at up to 3,000 metres above sea level has become threatened in recent years.

On average, the stoat weighs about 30 grammes and measures about 30 centimetres long. It is known for its long tail with a prominent black tip. Animal researchers have found that its diet mainly consists of mice, particularly water voles.

The stoat is a protected species in Switzerland but is not considered an endangered species, according to Pro Naturaexternal link. People are its main enemy, having reduced its natural habitat through building and land usage.

The conservation organisation is calling for the re-establishment of a network of habitats not only for the stoat but also for other animal and plant species, according to a statement published on Wednesday.

The fur of the stoat was popular for the fashion industry in the past but is no longer as sought-after, says Pro Natura. The organisation has been building awareness for particular wild animals for more than 20 years through its “animal of the year” initiative, among others.

Here’s more on previous animals of the year:

+ Red deer stag

+ Water shrew

+ Grass snake

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