(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

European polecat, fitch, or the black or forest polecat is not that much social like a ferret, as well as more solitary to make a polecat less attractive as pets to the human. They are popularly bred for hunting rabbits. With its 14 years of lifespan in captivity, the scientific name of the European polecat is Mustela putorius.

European polecat Mustela putorius profile and facts

In this article, I am going to give an overview of European Polecat facts, profile, bred for hunting rabbit, lifespan, bred, diet, size, and habitat, etc.

Distribution and habitat

Eurasia and North Africa, Morocco, Lowland areas, marshes, a forest plantation, etc.

The European polecat is the only ancestor of the ferret, which was domesticated more than 2000 years ago for the aim of looking vermin.

As of 2008, it’s classed by the IUCN as Least Concern resulting from its wide selection and enormous numbers.

The traits of polecat residence ranges differ in response to season, habitat, breeding, and social standing.

Breeding females settle in discrete areas, whereas breeding males and dispersing juveniles have more lucid ranges.

Males usually have bigger territories than females. Every polecat makes use of a number of den sites distributed all through its territory.

In winter, the polecat could use farm buildings or haystacks as daytime resting places.

Sometimes, deserted European badger or purple fox burrows are used as the habitat.

Instead of creating ned burrows, capturing other’s burrows is easier.


European polecat is typically darkish brown in color, with a pale underbelly and darkish masks throughout the face.

The European polecat is a short-legged, but a swift and strong mammal, it has a tiny body compared to the European mink or steppe polecat.

The tail of the mammal is quite short, about 33% of its entire body size.

hey has small eyes with darkish brown irises, and have a comparatively sharp look.

The hind toes are quite long and partially webbed, with weakly curved around 4 mm-long, nonretractable claws.

The front claws are strongly curved, partially retractable, and measure 6 mm in size.

Sometimes, color mutations, together with albinos and erythrite, take place in the animal for natural reasons.

It’s a lot much less territorial than different mustelids, with animals of the identical sex often sharing habitat ranges among them.

Compared to different equally sized mustelids, the polecat’s enamel is very robust, giant, and big in relation to the cranium dimension.

The polecat’s working gait is just not as advanced and twisting as that of the mink or stoat, and it isn’t as quick because of the mountain weasel.

Its sensory organs are properly developed, although it’s unable to tell apart between colors.

The size of the European polecat differs tremendously.

The polecat is an effective swimmer, however, its fur isn’t as properly insulated in opposition to chilly water as the polecat cools down at 26–28 minutes.

The species doesn’t conform to Bergmann’s rule, with the sample of dimension variation seeming to observe the development of dimension improve alongside an east-west axis.

Size and weight

The size of the male is larger than that of the female. Matured male body size is 35 – 46 cm whereas the female is 29 – 39 cm. The weight of the matured male is 1 – 1.5 kg whereas the female is 650 – 820 g.

European polecat Behavior

The European polecat has a way more settled lifestyle, with particular residence ranges.

Like most mustelids, polecats are solitary creatures. They may defend their territory fiercely, except a feminine has younger, or is in season.

They’re primarily nocturnal, although females and their younger will forage through the day.

In winter polecats are much less energetic, rising through the day extra typically than in the summer season.

A male will sometimes have a bigger territory than a feminine. Every particular person makes use of a number of den websites all through its territory.

European polecats are often silent animals, although they growl fiercely when indignant, and squeak when distressed.

Additionally, they make a low, mewling cry to their mate or offspring.

european polecat


The European polecat feeds on small rodents, birds, amphibians, and reptiles.

They live on a diversified meal. The foremost meals of polecat are discovered mammals.

Rodents are the dominant group and constituted about half of the common diet. Insectivores are a minor part of the whereas birds are the secondary prey group, dominated by medium-sized species.

Anurans frog or toads, reptiles, fish, and invertebrates collectively complement the diet.

Fruit and different plant materials (grass, leaves, grain) are scarcely consumed by the polecat.

Fur and color

The fur on the body helps the mammal in different ways, including keeping the body protected, warm, and beautifully looking.

The winter fur of the European polecat is brownish-black or blackish brown, the depth of which is decided by the color of the lengthy guard hairs.

On its back and flanks, the darkish tone is brightened by vibrant whitish-yellowish, typically yellowish-greyish underfur which exhibits by means of.

The calmly colored underfur isn’t equally seen on completely different components of the body.

The underfur is nearly lined by the darkish guard hairs on the back and hindquarters.

The throat, neck, chest, and stomach are black or blackish brown.

The limbs are pure black or black with brown tints, whereas the tail is black or blackish brown, utterly missing gentle underfur.

Areas around the eyes are black-brown, with a longitudinal stripe of comparable color alongside the highest of the nostril.

The ears of the European polecat are darkish brown and edged with white.

Seasons also have an impact on the fur and color. The summer fur is very short, sparse, and coarse.

On the flanks, although, the lighting is properly outlined, and contrasts sharply with the overall tone of the backside of the body.


The European polecat is polygamous, with being pregnant occurring after mating, with no induced ovulation, held at the beginning of early summer.

The European polecat is a seasonal breeder, with no courtship rituals.

Through the mating season, the male grabs the feminine by the neck and drags her about to stimulate ovulation, then copulates for as much as an hour.

The species is polygamous, with every male polecat mating with a number of females.

The gestation interval lasts 40–43 days, with litters normally being born in May to early of June. Every litter sometimes consists of 5 to 10 kits.

At delivery, the kits weigh 9-10 g and measure 55–70 mm in body size; they’re blind, naked, and deaf.

At the age of 6-7 days, the kits are coated in silky, white fur, which is changed with a cinnamon brown-greyish woolly coat at the age of three-four weeks.

Weaning begins at three weeks of age, whereas the everlasting dentition erupts after 7–8 weeks. The kits turn out of the burrow after 3 months.

Females are very protective of their younger and have even been identified to confront people approaching too carefully to their litters.

They need to be safe in order to escape the predators, upon whom, the infants are too vulnerable.

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