European polecat (Mustela putorius)—Russ Kinne—Photo Researchers

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.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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