European polecat Facts

European polecat Facts
European polecat, also known as fitch or forest polecat, is small mammal that belongs to the mustelid family. There are 7 subspecies of European polecats that can be found in Europe and North Africa. European polecat inhabits marshes, forest plantations, open scrublands, areas near the rivers and sea cliffs. These animals were extensively hunted in the past because of their silky fur. After drastic reduction in the number of European polecats in the wild, they were placed on the list of protected species. Thanks to this measure, European polecats are once again numerous and widespread in Europe.
Interesting European polecat Facts:
European polecat can reach 14 to 20 inches in length and 1.5 to 3.25 pounds of weight. Males are two times bigger than females.
European polecat has thick, silky yellowish-brown fur on the back and yellowish fur on the belly. It has white face and black, bandit-like mask around eyes. Fur is silver or gray-colored during the winter.
European polecat has broad head with small, rounded eyes, cylindrical, slender body, short legs and short, furry tail.
European polecat is nocturnal animal (active during the night).
European polecat is a carnivore (meat-eater). Its diet is based on rabbits, rodents, amphibians, eggs, birds and insects. European polecat easily locates the prey thanks to excellent sense of hearing.
Name "polecat" originates from the French phrase "poule chat" which means "the chicken cat". Name refers to the fact that polecat likes to hunt and eat chickens.
European polecat is solitary and territorial animal. Males occupy territory of around 100 hectares. Females live on smaller territories that often overlap with territories of neighboring males and females. Both males and females use oily, foul-smelling substance to mark the borders of their territories and to repel the predators.
Natural enemies of European polecats are coyotes, bobcats, dogs and owls.
Mating season of European polecats takes place from March to May.
Male drags female by holding her neck at least one hour before the copulation. This behavior stimulates release of eggs and guarantees successful fertilization.
Female gives birth to 3 to 7 (up to 10) babies (also known as kits) after pregnancy of 40 to 42 days. Kits spend first month of their life in a den lined with grass and moss.
In the case of litter loss, female is able to produce another litter before breeding season ends.
One month old European polecats follow their mother and learn how to hunt on their own. At the age of 3 to 4 months, they are ready for the independent life. European polecats reach sexual maturity at the age of one year.
European polecats can interbreed with ferrets. Created polecat-ferret hybrids are sterile. They look like large European polecats.
European polecats can survive up to 5 years in the wild.

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