Average lifespan: 5 years
When to seeJanuary to December
AboutA member of the Mustelid family, which includes the stoat and badger, the polecat is roughly the size of a Ferret - its domesticated cousin. Brought to the brink of extinction through persecution, the polecat has been undergoing a recovery recently and can be found in rural Wales and parts of England. polecats set up home in lowland wooded habitats, marshes, along riverbanks, or even in farm buildings or dry stone walls. They particularly prey on rabbits and may be found in rabbit burrows. They have one litter of five to ten young a year in early summer.
How to identifyThe polecat has a two-tone coat: dark brown guard hairs cover a buff-coloured underfur. It has a distinct bandit-like appearance, with white stripes across its dark face. It has a short, dark tail and rounded ears. Polecats do cross with escaped ferrets; crosses tend to have lighter, creamier fur on their back and more white on their faces, extending past their ears.
In our area
The polecat was once native to the island, but was then lost before being re-introduced to the Isle of Man - it is believed sometime in the 1600s. Now found throughout the Island the population is actually derived from an escaped population of polecat-ferrets, so is not a true polecat as found in Wales. However these fierce little animals survive quite happily here and have established themselves as a successful breeding population.