polecat


polecat
/pohl"kat'/, n., pl. polecats, (esp. collectively) polecat.
1. a European mammal, Mustela putorius, of the weasel family, having a blackish fur and ejecting a fetid fluid when attacked or disturbed. Cf. ferret1 (def. 1).
2. any of various North American skunks.
[1275-1325; ME polcat, perh. equiv. to MF pol, poul chicken ( < L pullus) + CAT1]

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Any of several carnivores of the weasel family (Mustelidae), found in Eurasia and Africa.

The polecat hunts at night, principally on the ground, feeding on small mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, fishes, and eggs. Species differ in size and colour. The European, or common, polecat (Mustela putorius), also called foul marten for its odour, weighs 1–3 lb (0.5–1.4 kg) and is 14–21 in. (35–53 cm) long, excluding the 5–8-in. (13–20-cm) bushy tail. Its long, coarse fur is brown above, black below. In the U.S., skunks are often called polecats. See also ferret.

European polecat (Mustela putorius)

Russ Kinne
Photo Researchers

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▪ Eurasian and African mammal
      any of several weasellike carnivores of the family Mustelidae (which includes the weasel, mink, otter, and others). The pelt, especially of the European polecat, is called fitch in the fur trade.

      The European, or common, polecat, also called foul marten for its odour (Mustela, sometimes Putorius, putorius), occurs in woodlands of Eurasia and North Africa. It weighs 0.5–1.4 kg (1–3 pounds) and is 35–53 cm (14–21 inches) long exclusive of the bushy tail, which is 13–20 cm long. Its long, coarse fur is brown above, black below, and marked with yellowish patches on the face. Much lighter fur distinguishes the masked, or steppe, polecat (M. p. eversmanni) of Asia.

      Principally terrestrial, the polecat hunts at night, feeding on small mammals and birds. It also eats snakes, lizards, frogs, fishes, and eggs. The polecat is more powerful than the marten but less active, and it rarely climbs trees. Its litters of three to eight young are born in the spring after about two months' gestation. The domestic, albino variety of the European polecat is known as the ferret (q.v.).

      The marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna) of Eurasian foothills and steppes is similar to the European species in habits, appearance, and size. It is mottled reddish brown and yellowish above, blackish below.

      The zorille (q.v.), a related African carnivore, is also called striped, cape, or African polecat. In the United States the name polecat is often applied to skunks (see skunk), particularly the spotted and striped species.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:
, , , , , (Mustela putorius) / , (Mustela vison)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Polecat — may refer to: * One of several species of weasel: ** Marbled Polecat ** Steppe Polecat ** Striped Polecat ** European Polecat * Skunks, or other members of the Mephitidae family * Civets, mostly nocturnal mammals found in Africa, Asia, and the… …   Wikipedia

  • polecat — [pōl′kat΄] n. pl. polecats or polecat [ME polcat, prob. < OFr poule (see POULTRY) + CAT1] 1. any of several small, Old World weasels, usually having anal glands that eject foul smelling fluid when the animal is in danger, esp. one (Mustela… …   English World dictionary

  • Polecat — Pole cat , n. [Probably fr. F. poule hen, and originally, a poultry cat, because it feeds on poultry. See {Poultry}.] (Zo[ o]l.) (a) A small European carnivore of the Weasel family ({Putorius f[oe]tidus}). Its scent glands secrete a substance of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • polecat — (n.) early 14c., first element is probably Anglo Fr. pol, from O.Fr. poule fowl, hen, so called because it preys on poultry. The other alternative is that the first element is from O.Fr. pulent stinking, for obvious reasons. Originally the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • polecat — ► NOUN 1) a weasel like mammal with dark brown fur and an unpleasant smell. 2) N. Amer. a skunk. ORIGIN perhaps from Old French pole chicken + CAT(Cf. ↑catlike) …   English terms dictionary

  • Polecat — Dieser Artikel oder Abschnitt ist nicht hinreichend mit Belegen (Literatur, Webseiten oder Einzelnachweisen) versehen. Die fraglichen Angaben werden daher möglicherweise demnächst gelöscht. Hilf Wikipedia, indem du die Angaben recherchierst und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • polecat — n. a mean and deceitful person, usually male. (Folksy. Polecat is another U.S. word for skunk. See also skunk; stinker.) □ You dirty polecat! □ Tell that polecat I want to talk to him …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

  • polecat — UK [ˈpəʊlˌkæt] / US [ˈpoʊlˌkæt] noun [countable] Word forms polecat : singular polecat plural polecats a small European or Asian wild animal that produces an unpleasant smell …   English dictionary

  • polecat — tamsusis šeškas statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Mustela putorius angl. European polecat; fitchew; polecat vok. europäischer Iltis; europäischer Waldiltis; Iltis; Stinkmarder; Waldiltis rus. лесной… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • polecat — noun (plural polecats or polecat) Etymology: Middle English polcat, probably from Middle French poul, pol cock + Middle English cat; probably from its preying on poultry more at pullet Date: 14th century 1. any of several carnivorous mammals (as… …   New Collegiate Dictionary


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