7 things you didn't know about polecats
During spring at Westonbirt, we had a very unexpected visitor!
Luckily, one of our wildlife cameras caught a small glimpse of this elusive animal...
Did you know?
1. Polecats have a two-toned coat with dark brown guard hairs covering a buff-coloured underfur.
2. During the reign of Elizabeth I polecats were declared vermin, and vagabonds were referred to as 'Polecats' - this is due to the mask-like markings on these mammals' faces.
3. Polecats are part of the same family as stoats and badgers, known as the Mustelid family. They are about the size of a ferret - which is its domesticated cousin.
4. Sadly, polecats were close to extinction due to persecution but since the 1950s they have been recovering in numbers, now being found in rural Wales and parts of England - including Westonbirt!
5. They find their homes in wooded habitats, along riverbanks as well as farm buildings and dry stone walls.
6. Polecats are known for their pungent odour. Their common name may even derive from old European words for foul-smell.
7. Polecats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and have also been added to the list of UK BAP mammals to protect species of principal importance for the conservation of biological diversity in England.