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Polecats

File:Storm the polecat.jpgPolecats are related to the badger.

The European polecat (Mustela putorius), also known as the black or forest polecat (as well as a host of other names), is a species of mustelid native to western Eurasia and North Africa. It is of a generally dark brown colour, with a pale underbelly and a dark mask across the face. Occasionally, colour mutations, including albinos and erythrists, occur. Compared to weasels and minks, the polecat has a shorter, more compact body, a more powerfully built skull and dentition and is less agile in its movements.

It is much less territorial than other mustelids, with animals of the same sex frequently sharing home ranges. Like other mustelids, the European polecat is polygamous, though pregnancy occurs directly after mating, with no induced ovulation. It usually gives birth in early summer to litters consisting of five to 10 kits, which become independent at the age of two to three months. The European polecat feeds on small rodents, birds, amphibians and reptiles. It occasionally cripples its prey by piercing its brain with its teeth and stores it, still living, in its burrow for future consumption.

The European polecat originated in Western Europe during the Middle Pleistocene, with its closest living relatives being the steppe polecat, the black-footed ferret and the European mink. With the two former species, it can produce fertile offspring, though hybrids between it and the latter species tend to be sterile, and are distinguished from their parent species by their larger size and more valuable pelts.

The European polecat is the sole ancestor of the Ferret, which was domesticated more than 2000 years ago for hunting vermin. Polecats have been historically viewed negatively by humans. In the British Isles especially, the polecat was persecuted by gamekeepers, and became synonymous with promiscuity in early English literature. During modern times, the polecat is still scantly represented in popular culture when compared to other rare British mammals, and misunderstandings of its behaviour still persist in some rural areas.

Secrets of the Sett DVD
Natural World - Badgers Secrets Of The Sett [DVD]Superb DVD which follows a badger clan through a whole year. Shows movements above and below ground, and includes breathtaking footage. Sir David Attenborough narrates: Secrets Of The Sett
Michael Clark
Superb
book by
Michael
Clark.
His affection
for badgers
really shines
through.
We really recommend this book. Click here to buy Badgers by Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Superb
book by
Michael
Clark.
His affection
for badgers
really shines
through.
We really recommend this book. Click here to buy Badgers by Michael Clark