polecat


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polecat,

carnivorous mammal of the weaselweasel,
name for certain small, lithe, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae (weasel family). Members of this family are generally characterized by long bodies and necks, short legs, small rounded ears, and medium to long tails.
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 family. The name refers especially to the common Old World polecat, Mustela putorius, found in wooded areas of N Eurasia and N Africa. Similar to weasels, but larger and with longer fur, polecats grow to nearly 2 ft (60 cm) long, including the 6-in. (15-cm) tail. The fur, sold under the name fitch and much used in the early 19th cent., is dark brown above, with yellow patches on the ears and face. The belly, feet, and tail are nearly black. Like other members of its family, polecats have a scent gland under the tail which emits a fetid secretion used for territorial marking; the gland is most active when the animals are alarmed. Solitary, nocturnal animals, they spend the day in dens. They feed on small animals and eggs and are quite destructive to poultry and small game. Farmers have exterminated polecats in many areas, but they still survive in wilder places over most of their former range. Protection in some countries has enabled them to recover and reclaim some of their former range. Domesticated strains of polecat have been developed for hunting; these are called ferretferret,
name for a domesticated polecat, Mustela putorius, common in the Old World. It has been used for centuries to hunt rats, mice, and rabbits. Domestic ferrets are found in many color types including albinos, brown, and black.
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, a name also applied to a wild polecat species of North America. The marbled polecat and striped polecat (see zorillazorilla,
small, carnivorous, nocturnal mammal, Ictonyx striatus, of the weasel family, found in dry regions of Africa. It is also called striped weasel and striped polecat.
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) are related animals of Africa and W Asia. The skunkskunk,
name for several related New World mammals of the weasel family, characterized by their conspicuous black and white markings and use of a strong, highly offensive odor for defense.
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, a New World member of the weasel family, is called polecat in some regions. Polecats are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Mustelidae.

polecat

1. a dark brown musteline mammal, Mustela putorius, of woodlands of Europe, Asia, and N Africa, that is closely related to but larger than the weasel and gives off an unpleasant smell
2. any of various related animals, such as the marbled polecat, Vormela peregusna
3. US a nontechnical name for skunk
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