The marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna) is a small mammal belonging to the monotypic genus Vormela within the mustelid subfamily Ictonychinae. Vormela is from the German word Würmlein, which means "little worm". The specific name peregusna comes from perehuznya (перегузня), which is Ukrainian for "polecat". Marbled polecats are generally found in the drier areas and grasslands of southeastern Europe to western China. Like other members of Ictonychinae, it can emit a strong-smelling secretion from anal sacs under the tail when threatened.
|Adult Vormela peregusna|
|Marbled polecat range|
Ranging in length from 29–35 cm (head and body), the marbled polecat has a short muzzle and very large, noticeable ears. The limbs are short and claws are long and strong. While the tail is long, with long hair, the overall pelage is short. Black and white mark the face, with a black stripe across the eyes and white markings around the mouth. Dorsally, the pelage is yellow and heavily mottled with irregular reddish or brown spots. The tail is dark brown with a yellowish band in the midregion. The ventral region and limbs are a dark brown. Females weigh from 295 to 600 g, and males can range from 320 to 715 g.
The marbled polecat is found from southeast Europe to Russia and China. Its range includes Bulgaria, Georgia, Turkey, Romania, Asia Minor, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, north-western Pakistan, Yugoslavia, Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan and north to the Altai steppes in Siberia. In 1998, a marbled polecat was recorded on the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt.
Marbled polecats are most active during the morning and evening. Their eyesight is weak and they rely on a well-developed sense of smell. Vocalization is limited and consists of shrill alarm cries, grunts and a submissive long shriek.
Marbled polecats are solitary and move extensively through their 0.5- to 0.6-km2 home range. They generally only stay in a shelter once. When they encounter each other, they are usually aggressive.
When alarmed, a marbled polecat will raise up on its legs while arching its back and curling its tail over the back, with the long tail hair erect. It may also raise its head, bare its teeth, and give shrill, short hisses. If threatened, it can expel a foul-smelling secretion from enlarged anal glands under the tail.
To dig, such as when excavating dens, the marbled polecat digs out earth with its forelegs while anchoring itself with its chin and hind legs. It will use its teeth to pull out obstacles such as roots.
Marbled polecats mate from March to early June. Their mating calls are most often heard as low rumbling sounds in a slow rhythm. Gestation can be long and variable (243 days to 327 days). Parturition has been observed to occur from late January to mid-March. Delayed implantation allows marbled polecats to time the birth of their cubs for favorable conditions, such as when prey is abundant.
Litter sizes range from four to eight cubs. Only females care for the young. Cubs open their eyes at around 38–40 days old, are weaned at 50–54 days and leave their mother (disperse) at 61–68 days old.
Marbled polecats are found in open desert, semidesert, and semiarid rocky areas in upland valleys and low hill ranges, steppe country and arid subtropical scrub forest. They avoid mountainous regions. Marbled polecats have been sighted in cultivated areas such as melon patches and vegetable fields.
Burrows of large ground squirrels or similar rodents such as the great gerbil (Rhombomys opinus) and Libyan jird are used by marbled polecats for resting and breeding. They may also dig their own dens or live in underground irrigation tunnels. In the winter, marbled polecats will line their dens with grass.
Marbled polecats are known to eat ground squirrels, Libyan jirds (Meriones libycus), Armenian hamsters (Cricetulus migratorius), voles, mole rats (Spalax lecocon ehrenbergi), house mice (Mus musculus), and other rodents, small hares, birds, lizards, fish, frogs, snails, and insects (beetles and crickets), as well as fruit and grass. They are also recorded as taking small domestic poultry such as chickens and pigeons, as well as stealing smoked meat and cheese.
In 2008, V. peregusna was classified as a vulnerable species in the IUCN Red List due to a population reduction of at least 30% in the previous 10 years. In 1996, it had been considered a species of least concern. The decline in marbled polecat populations thought to be due to habitat destruction (cultivation) and reduction in available prey by use of rodenticides.
In Pakistan, it is listed as an endangered species.
In 1945, Kabul shopkeepers were reported to have kept marbled polecats to exterminate rodents. Their journals also show some developed an adverse reaction to the strong smell they emit when threatened. Side effects varied from fever to diarrhea.
Other names for the marbled polecat include aladzhauzen (Turkmen), berguznya (Kuban), chokha (Kalmuck), fessyah ("stinky" in Arabic), abulfiss (Arabic), hǔ-yòu (Chinese 虎鼬, lit. ‘tiger musteline’), myshovka (Terek Cossacks dialect), pereguznya, pereguzka, or perevishchik (Ukrainian), perevyazka (Russian), perewiaske (Polish), khaytakis (Armenian), alaca sansar, alaca kokarca, benekli kokarca (Turkish), suur-tyshkan (Kyrgyz), putois marbré or putois de Pologne (French); Tigeriltis (German, lit. ‘tiger polecat’), mottled polecat (English), sarmatier; Syrian marbled polecat, and tiger polecat. In some contexts it is called the tiger weasel.
The subspecies of V. peregusna include:
"Fitch" was a popular fur with our grandmothers, and at present has come back into favor. [...] The Perwitsky or Sarmatian Mottled Polecat (Putorius sarmaticus), is a distinct species...
The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.Ferret-badger
Ferret-badgers are the five species of the genus Melogale, which is the only genus of the monotypic mustelid subfamily Helictidinae.
Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)
Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)
Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)
Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)
Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)Honey badger
The honey badger (Mellivora capensis), also known as the ratel ( or ), is widely distributed in Africa, Southwest Asia, and in the Indian subcontinent. Because of its wide range and occurrence in a variety of habitats, it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.It is the only species in the mustelid subfamily Mellivorinae and its only genus Mellivora. Despite its name, the honey badger does not closely resemble other badger species; instead, it bears more anatomical similarities to weasels. It is primarily a carnivorous species and has few natural predators because of its thick skin and ferocious defensive abilities.
Notorious for their strength, ferocity, and toughness, honey badgers have been known to attack and repel almost any kind of animal when escape is impossible, even much larger predators like lions. They are listed as the "world's most fearless animal" in the Guinness Book of World Records due to their fearlessness.Ictonychinae
Ictonychinae is a subfamily of the mammal family Mustelidae found mainly in the Neotropics (3 species) and Africa (3 species), with one Eurasian member. It includes the grisons, Patagonian weasel, striped polecats, African striped weasel and marbled polecat, respectively. These genera were formerly included within a paraphyletic definition of the mustelid subfamily Mustelinae.
Most members have a mask-like bar or larger dark marking across their face; the African representatives of the group are striped. A defense mechanism common to the group is use of a chemical spray similar to (but not necessarily as strong as) that of skunks.Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve
The Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, commonly shortened to Ikh Nart Nature Reserve is a protected area in the East Gobi Province of Mongolia. It occupies part of two counties, Dalanjargalan and Airag. The nature reserve has an area of about 66,000 hectares (160,000 acres) and was established in 1996. It consists of rocky outcrops surrounded by dry grassland and semi-desert steppe and is one of the places in which the rare argali wild sheep can be found.Lutrogale
Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.Mustelidae
The Mustelidae (; from Latin mustela, weasel) are a family of carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, mink, and wolverines, among others. Mustelids are diverse and the largest family in the order Carnivora, suborder Caniformia. Mustelidae comprises about 56-60 species across eight subfamilies.Mustelinae
Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).Nyctereutes
Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.
Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.Polecat
Polecat is a common name for mammals in the order Carnivora and subfamilies Galictinae and Mustelinae. Polecats do not form a single taxonomic rank (i.e., clade); the name is applied to several species with broad similarities (including having a dark mask-like marking across the face) to European polecats, the only species native to the British Isles.
In the United States, the term polecat is sometimes applied to the black-footed ferret, a native member of the Mustelinae, and (loosely) to skunks, which are only distantly related.
Despite the name, polecats, being various caniform mustelids, are more closely related to dogs than cats, which is why they belong to the suborder Caniformia.
In Canada, the term polecat is sometimes applied to electric utility linemen.Ural River
The Ural (Russian: Урал, pronounced [ʊˈraɫ]), known as Yaik (Russian: Яик, Bashkir: Яйыҡ, translit. Yayıq, pronounced [jɑˈjɯq]; Kazakh: Жайық, translit. Jaıyq, جايىق, pronounced [ʑɑˈjəq]) before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan in Eurasia. It originates in the southern Ural Mountains and discharges into the Caspian Sea. At 2,428 kilometres (1,509 mi), it is the third-longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube, and the 18th-longest river in Asia. The Ural River is conventionally considered part of the boundary between the continents of Europe and Asia.
The Ural River arises near Mount Kruglaya in the Ural Mountains, flows south parallel and west of the north-flowing Tobol River, through Magnitogorsk, and around the southern end of the Urals, through Orsk where it turns west for about 300 kilometres (190 mi), to Orenburg, when the Sakmara River joins. From Orenburg it continues west, passing into Kazakhstan, then turning south again at Oral, and meandering through a broad flat plain until it reaches the Caspian a few miles below Atyrau, where it forms a fine digitate delta at (46°53′N 51°37′E).Wildlife of Armenia
The wildlife of Armenia includes wild boars, porcupines, various lizards, snakes and numerous species of birds. Endangered species living in Armenia are the Caucasian bear, Caucasian bearded goat, the Armenian mouflon (sheep) and the leopard.
Extant Carnivora species