The hardiness of the Stoat

18 Mar 2011

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070419145346.htm we have an old story, but one that is interesting never the less. Irish stoats, it has been found from DNA evidence, survived the Late Glacial Maximum - but exactly where they survived is unknown (not necessary in Ireland but somewhere now submerged perhaps?) A paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society by scientists from Queens University, claim that stoats survived in Ireland when the Irish Sea was a glacier and an ice sheet covered half of the island, as that was the situation during the LGM. Normally, they feed on mice, rabbits and birds but they concluded they survived by catching lemmings just as they do in the modern world in places as diverse as Greenland and Scandinavia. The same may be true of the Irish hare - a descendant perhaps of an Arctic species?