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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Marbled Polecat: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Marbled polecats facts are interesting for both children and cats alike.

A marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna) is a type of small mammal of the large family of mustelids and the only identified species of the genus Vormela. It is also commonly known as Eurasian marbled polecat or European marbled polecat, probably because of its vast distribution in Europe and Asia. Apart from that, the marbled polecat range also extends to  Central and East Asia. The marbled polecat has particular areas as their personal home ranges in their habitats that stretch to a large area. The animal shows aggressive habits when met with another polecat. The polecats socialize only during their breeding season between March to early June. They live by digging their own dens but sometimes might turn the burrows or dens of their prey into their own. The species protects its home range from all types of intruders and can be aggressive even towards human beings if they come closer to their range. Their brown coat was in high demand in fur trades once upon a time, referred to as fitch. At present, this wild mammal group does not have any dedicated management plan for them, and they have become extremely rare. To learn more about the animal, keep on reading these facts.

For similar content, check out the polecat and striped polecat facts too.

Marbled Polecat Interesting Facts

What type of animal are marbled polecats?

A marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna) is a type of small mammal of the Mustelidae family.

What class of animals do marbled polecats belong to?

The marbled polecat of the Carnivora order is a small warm-blooded animal that belongs to the class of mammals or Mammalia.  

How many marbled polecats are there in the world?

The marbled polecat is a very rare species and its population is highly scattered. In many parts of its range, the animal has gone completely missing. The northern and the southern borders of its population are gradually receding in size as these animals are decreasing in those parts. Their range has also decreased in the extreme eastern parts of China. Most of the marbled polecat population is currently concentrated in Central Asia, although the animals are highly rare. Israel consists of the largest polecat population. Formerly, a large range was found in Egypt, but it is also considered extremely rare.  

Where do marbled polecats live?

The species of marbled polecat are found to occur in the southwestern parts of Europe and their range extends to northern China and Mongolia through Central Asia, the Middle East, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus. In Europe, they are found in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Turkey, southern Ukraine, and the Russian Federation. The marble polecat range in the middle east is widespread. They mostly populate Israel and countries like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and the northern part of Saudi Arabia. In their eastern range, marbled polecats cover many provinces of China mainly in the western and northern parts and south, west, and central regions of Mongolia. Discrete distribution of the marbled polecats has also been recorded from the northern parts of the Sinai peninsula in Egypt.  

What is a marbled polecat's habitat?

They can occur in a large range of habitats; however, the ideal condition for the marbled polecat species is arid desert and semi-desert regions. These animals might also inhabit treeless prairies or steppes, rocky valleys,  tropical or subtropical scrublands, meadows, and also moderate hilly regions at a maximum elevation of 9842 ft (3000 m). They generally do not exist above this height like in high mountain ranges. Affected by the modern cause of habitat destruction, the polecats have also learned to adapt to cultivated lands and vegetative areas.

Who do marbled polecats live with?

Marbled polecats are generally solitary animals. They show habits of moving alone extensively throughout a large part of their home range and get along with another marbled polecat only during the time of mating.

How long do marbled polecats live?

There is very little data regarding the lifespan of a marbled polecat. A captive marbled polecat had a record of living for eight years and 11 months. In the wild, these small mammals often get infested by ticks or fleas, shortening their lifespan to an average of three years and one month.

How do they reproduce?

The mating system of marbled polecats is not widely discussed. The mating season of the species starts in March and lasts till early June. When ready to mate, they make a long shriek or low growl in a slow rhythm. After mating, the females give birth to four to eight young polecats. The gestation period lasts only for a span of 40 days in captive animals, but in the wild, due to delayed implantation, the gestation period might vary between 8-11 months. Delayed implantation helps the females to choose ideal conditions to give birth to young marbled polecats. The juvenile marbled polecats are mostly born between January and March before the next mating season sets in. The cubs are protected and weaned by the females for a span of 61-68 days. After 68 days, they mature enough, although not fully mature, to hunt and prey in the wild.

What is their conservation status?

In the IUCN Red List, the species of marbled polecat is classified as Vulnerable. A large portion of its population has decreased across the entire extent. Habitat destruction is the main threat that is causing this higher rate of decrease of this small mammal group and will likely continue even in the future. There are no specific predators of marbled polecats that eat them.

Marbled Polecat Fun Facts

What do marbled polecats look like?

The marbled polecat is a nocturnal animal.

The marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna) has a body of small built. Their front and hind legs are small in size, and they end in strong, powerful claws. The length of the front claws is greater than the claws of the hind legs. The claws help the animal in hunting as well as for digging. The marbled polecat nose transforms into a short muzzle and they have large noticeable ears on both sides of their small head. The tail consists of dark brown colored long hair with a yellowish band.  The forehead has a white patch that stretches up to its ears. An elongated black patch encircles the eyes. The fur of the dorsal side is yellow in color and has reddish spots, while the ventral side is covered with a dark brown fur coat. The white and round noticeable ears stand in contrast to its black head.

How cute are they?

The small size of the marbled polecats is the only thing about them that can be considered cute. A marbled polecat is, in general, a short-tempered, aggressive animal that has an extremely wild nature.

How do they communicate?

Communication in marbled polecats is less as they are not very social. Since their eyesight is weak, the well-developed sense of smell helps them to navigate and locate the prey. When threatened, they release a pungent-smelling odor from the anal glands that are present under their tails. Other forms of communication in the species include short hisses when showing anger, long shriek, grunt, and cries.

How big are marbled polecats?

The marbled polecat size ranges between 17-26 in (44-65 cm). They are similar in length to ferrets.

How fast can marbled polecats run?

Marbled polecats are highly unsocial animals that do not exceed their home range except during reproductive activities. Their speed within that range or in general has not been determined.

How much do marbled polecats weigh?

The marbled polecat weight of a male and female ranges between 11-25 oz (320-715 g) and 10-21 oz (295-600 g), respectively.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males and females do not have any particular names. Both of them are collectively known as marbled polecats.

What would you call a baby marbled polecat?

The young marbled polecats are referred to as cubs.

What do they eat?

Although their eyesight is weak, marbled polecats have a short muzzle with a keen sense of smell that helps them prey. They have a large variety of diet that mainly consists of small terrestrial animals. These intelligent animal strategize their hunting plan according to their diet. The most common foods included in their diet are mole rats, ground squirrels, house mice, Libyan jirds, voles, Armenian hamsters, and many other small rodents, birds, lizards, and insects.

Are they dangerous?

Overall they are not dangerous as they are very small in size and, as a result, cannot prey on humans. However, they are very aggressive and wild and will attack you if threatened.

Would they make a good pet?

No, the animal's aggression and wild habits do not make a good pet out of them.

Did you know...

The terrestrial marbled polecats have 34 teeth. The marbled polecat teeth are very sharp and act as a weapon in capturing its prey.

Why is it called a marbled polecat?

The species name of the polecats is actually derived from a Ukrainian term. The name peregusna comes from the term perehuznya, which means polecat in Ukraine. The marbled polecats get their name from the dark brown, yellowish band, black, and white marble pattern that is formed by the long hair on its body.

Can you have a marbled polecat as a pet?

There exists no legal notice regarding the keeping of marbled polecats; however, they are protected in some parts of Europe. There are some instances of trying to pet this animal. From these instances, it has been concluded that a marbled polecat pet might not be as sweet. They have shown habits of sticking to dark places in captivity. It is a highly unsocial species that turns aggressive on human interactions and can even bite. The foul-smelling secretion from the anal glands on threat detection is also a negative feature that needs to be considered before domesticating them.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our European polecat facts and stoat facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable marbled polecat coloring pages.

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