(Last Updated On: March 21, 2021)

The Saharan striped polecat, often known as the Saharan striped weasel, Libyan striped weasel, and North African striped weasel (Ictonyx libycus) is a species of mammal within the family Mustelidae. This animal is usually characterized as being part of the genus Poecilictis, and its coloration resembles that of the striped polecat.

Saharan Striped Polecat Description

Saharan Striped Polecat displays excessive sexual dimorphism, whereby males can weigh as much as twice as a lot as females and be a 3rd or more longer. They have a coat of creamy-colored underfur with black guard hairs. In winter, this coat is thick, easy, and shiny.

In summer, after biannual shedding, the coat is skinny and pale and loses the luster of the winter coat.

Polecats have a raccoon-like darkish mask around their eyes, surrounded by a white face accented with white-tipped ears. Like all mustelids, polecats have a pair of anal glands that emit a strong-smelling secretion. When polecats are excited or threatened they launch among the contents of those glands.

Polecats are lean, slender weasel-like creatures with quick legs and a “bounding” gait that’s quicker and more efficient than it seems. Their skulls are barely “boxy” and more canine in look than these of the opposite weasels; their faces more intently resemble minks than weasels.

Like these different mustelids, polecats display a “key-lock” formation of the jaw, the place the articulation between the dentary and the remainder of the skull is sort of sealed off right into an everlasting hinge and could be very tough to separate even after dying.

This offers the mustelids their wonderful tenacity of grip throughout fights, searching, and play. Polecats and ferrets will be lifted and suspended no matter they’re gripping with their teeth.


The Saharan striped polecat is distributed across the northern and southern edges of the Sahara in Mauritania, Western Sahara, and Morocco within the west alongside the Mediterranean littoral of North Africa to the Nile Valley in Egypt, whereas within the south its range is the Sahel east to Sudan and Djibouti.

Saharan Striped Polecat Physical Traits

Saharan striped polecats are about 55–70 cm in size, together with their tails, and customarily weigh between 0.5 and 0.75 kg. They are striped white in a random style and have black feet, legs, ears, and undersides.

Often, a white ring goes across the face and above a black snout. They are typically confused with the striped polecat, although are usually smaller and have distinct facial markings.

5 toes on the fore- and hind feet. The claws on the fore-feet are long, sturdy, and curved, as much as 18 mm over the curve. Those on the hind-feet are a lot shorter, much less curved, and as much as about 10 mm long over the curve.

All 5 toes and claws of the fore- and hind-feet mark within the spoor, though the first toe of both feet might typically go away a weak impression. No proximal pad of the fore-feet reveals within the spoor.

Saharan Striped Polecat Appearance

Polecats are close kin of the African weasel however differ in that it’s bigger, the coat hairs are longer, and that it has three attribute white dots on the pinnacle. Head and body size is about 350 mm as an adult, with a 200 mm tail. Weighs between 640 and 1000 gr.

The pelage of the higher components of the body is black and white striped, with long hair. The top of the pinnacle and the remainder of the body are black. There are three white spots on the pinnacle, one located within the middle of the pinnacle and one above every eye. They have bushy tails.


Most mustelids are solitary creatures, and polecats aren’t any exception. Unless a feminine has a litter or is in season, polecats will strongly defend their territory. They are primarily nocturnal though females with younger have been recognized to forage throughout the day.


The Saharan striped polecat is discovered on the margins of deserts, particularly in mountains, in arid, stony terrain and sandy semideserts, hardly ever seen in woodlands, and prefers steppe-like habitat.

Saharan Striped Polecat

Saharan Striped Polecat Diet

It eats a diet primarily of eggs, small birds, small mammals, and lizards. Much of its prey is tracked down by scent and dug out of burrows, and though it’s usually a gradual, deliberate mover, it will possibly transfer fairly quickly and pounce rapidly when pursuing prey.

Feeds primarily on rodents, but nearly any small animal prey akin to snakes, lizards, scorpions, spiders, centipedes, and bugs could also be eaten. While foraging the polecat additionally pushes its snout into delicate soil or plant litter to find invertebrates.

Saharan Striped Polecat Breeding

The breeding season extends over spring and early summer season, just one litter consisting of 1 to a few altricial younger are born per season. The gestation interval is 36 days. Copulation can final 60-100 minutes. The canine teeth of the younger seem at 33 days and the eyes open at 40 days.

Subadults are in a position to kill small rodents at 9 weeks, and younger are totally grown by 20 weeks of age. Except when mating, each adult men and women happen singly.

Female and younger of the year stay collectively till her younger is nearly totally grown. At present, it isn’t recognized whether or not this species, just like the African weasel, is territorial.

The Saharan striped polecat is nocturnal and solitary. It hides throughout the day in different animals’ burrows or digs its personal. It usually offers beginning to 1 to a few younger in spring.


This creature is understood to spray a foul, skunk-like anal emission when threatened. It strikes about at night within the open in a fairly deliberate method, with its tail held vertically. Before releasing the anal emission, it raises its fur in an try and warns the potential attacker.

Saharan Striped Polecat Facts

Stripy polecat can be known as ‘zorilla’, which comes from the Spanish phrase ‘zorro’ – ‘fox’.

They look rather a lot like skunks and stay throughout Africa.

Striped polecats can stay in most habitats, together with open grassland, woodland, rocky areas, forests, and deserts.

They have small stomachs and so need to eat typically. Their clawed paws assist them to dig the earth for his or her next meal.

Their faces have unique face masks coloring, and sometimes embody a white spot on their head and white ears. The coloring is a warning to predators and anything that threatens them.

Striped Polecats wish to stay by themselves, and solely affiliate frequently with their family.

Saharan Striped Polecat hunts for meals at night.

Saharan Striped Polecat marks their territory by spraying it, just like skunks. This protects them from predators. They can use their spray to fend off predators.

Saharan Striped Polecat screams in a high pitch to speak with one another, in addition to scaring predators. They use a high to low-pitched scream to give up on their enemies.

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