Polecat

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Polecat
Polecat in denmark.jpg
European polecat
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Mustelidae
Subfamily:Mustelinae
 
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Not to be confused with Skunk.
For other uses, see Polecat (disambiguation).
Polecat
Polecat in denmark.jpg
European polecat
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Mustelidae
Subfamily:Mustelinae

Polecat is the common name for various medium-sized mammals in the order Carnivora and subfamily Mustelinae. Polecats do not form a single taxonomic rank; the name is applied to several species broadly similar to European polecats, the only species living natively on the British Isles.

In the U.S., the term polecat is sometimes applied to the Black-footed ferret, a native member of the Mustelinae, and loosely to skunks, which are only distantly related.

Systematics[edit]

According to the systematic theory proposing two subfamilies within Mustelidae, the polecats are classified as:

Subfamily Mustelinae

A more recent classification based on genetic analysis suggests that Mustelidae should be divided into eight subfamilies, one of which is the Mustelinae.[1]

Mustelidae






Lutrinae



Mustela, Neovison (subfamily Mustelinae)




Galictis, Vormela, Ictonyx, Poecilogale (subfamily Galictinae)




Melogale (subfamily Helictidinae)





Eira, Gulo, Martes (subfamily Martinae)



Arctonyx, Meles (subfamily Melinae)





Mellivora (subfamily Mellivorinae)




Taxidea (subfamily Taxideinae)



Note: In much of the U.S. the word "polecat" is almost exclusively applied to skunks.

Diversity and distribution[edit]

Comparative table of the six polecats in the subfamily Mustelinae.

PolecatImageDistributionWeightLength (including tail)
Striped polecatStriped polecat.jpgCentral, Southern, and sub-Saharan Africa0.6-1.3 kg.60–70 cm.
Saharan striped polecatSimilar colouration to striped polecatVarious North African countries0.5-0.75 kg.55–70 cm.
Steppe polecatMustela eversmannii 3.jpgCentral and Eastern Europe, and Central AsiaMales, up to 2.05 kg. Females, 1.35 kg.Males, 32–56 cm. Females, 29–52 cm.
American polecatMustela nigripes 2.jpgSouth Dakota, Arizona and Wyoming, reintroduced into various U.S. states and northern Chihuahua, MexicoMales, 0.65–1.40 kg. Females, 10% smaller.Males, 61–66 cm. Females, 10% smaller.
European polecatPolecat in denmark.jpgWestern Eurasia and North AfricaMiddle European Males, 1.0-1.5 kg. Females, 0.65-0.82 kg.Males, 44–62 cm. Females, 37–54 cm.
Marbled polecatMarbled polecat.jpgSoutheastern Europe to western China.Males, 0.3-0.7 kg. Females, 0.3-0.6 kg.29–35 cm (head and body).


References[edit]