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European Polecat

European Polecat

European Polecat Range Map (Europe)
European Polecat Range Map (Europe)

Latin Name Mustela putorius
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location Europe
Colour Brown
Length 35 - 51 cms (14 - 20 inches)
Tail 12 - 19 cms (4.75 - 7.5 inches)
Weight 0.7 - 1.5 Kgs (1.5 - 3.25 lbs)
Life Expectancy

Up to 5 Yrs

Main Characteristics

European Polecats are part of the mustelid family and they are closely related to domestic ferrets. They have a body length between 35 and 51 cms (14 - 20 inches), a tail length between 12 and 19 cms (4.75 - 7.5 inches) and they weigh between 0.7 and 1.5 Kgs (1.5 - 3.25 lbs).

They are dark brown in colour with a paler underside and white markings around their muzzle, ears and eyes. Their bodies are long and cylindrical shaped with short legs. They have a short, blunt face, small, rounded ears and their tail is short and furry.

They are mainly active at night but during the winter they are generally less active and venture out a bit more during the day.


European Polecats are found on farmland and in forests across Europe however, in Britain they are restricted to Wales.

They are solitary animals and they have a home range that averages at 100 hectares, but this varies depending on season and food availability. They often build dens under trees roots or in the banks of streams.


The diet of a European Polecat mainly consists of rabbits, small rodents, eggs, birds, amphibians and carrion.

They stalk their prey and when they seize it they kill it with a swift bite to the neck.


European Polecats breed once a year and after a gestation period of 40 - 42 days, 5 - 8 kits are born in a den. They usually give birth in May or June and 4 weeks later the kits are weaned.

When they reach 4 months old they will disperse to other areas and find their own territories. They reach sexual maturity after 1 year.


Humans are the main predator of European Polecats.


Subspecies of the European Polecat include:

Mustela putorius anglia
Mustela putorius aureola
Mustela putorius caledoniae
Mustela putorius furo
Mustela putorius mosquensis
Mustela putorius putorius
Mustela putorius rothschildi

Interesting Facts

European Polecats are also known as:

Similar Animals

Marbled Polecat
Steppe Polecat
Striped Polecat
Saharan Striped Polecat


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