Striped polecat

The striped polecat (Ictonyx striatus) - also called the African polecat, zoril, zorille, zorilla, Cape polecat, and African skunk - is a member of the family Mustelidae that resembles a skunk (of the family Mephitidae).[3] The name "zorilla" comes from the word "zorro", which in Spanish means "fox". It lives predominantly in dry and arid climates, such as the savannahs and open country of Central, Southern, and sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the Congo basin and the more coastal areas of West Africa.[2][4]

Striped polecat[1]
Ictonyx striatus - Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Giacomo Doria - Genoa, Italy - DSC02633
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Ictonyx
Species:
I. striatus
Binomial name
Ictonyx striatus
(Perry, 1810)
Subspecies
(many)[1]
Striped Polecat area
Striped polecat range

Physical characteristics

Striped polecats are about 60–70 cm (24–28 in) in length, including their tails, and 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) tall to the shoulders on average. They weigh anywhere from 0.6 kg (1.3 lb) to 1.3 kg (2.9 lb), generally, the males being the larger of the two sexes.[4] Their specific coloring varies by location. Generally they are black on the underside, white on the tail, with stripes running from their heads down their backs and on their cheeks. The legs and feet are black. Their skulls are usually around 56 mm (2.2 in) long, and they have unique face mask coloring, often including a white spot on their head, and white ears.[5][6] These masks are thought to serve as warnings to potential predators or other antagonists.[7]

Diet

Like other mustelids, the striped polecat is a carnivore. It has 34 sharp teeth which are optimal for shearing flesh and grinding meat. Its diet includes various small rodents, snakes, birds, amphibians, and insects.[8] Due to their small stomachs, they must eat often, and have clawed paws to help them dig around in the dirt in pursuit of their next meal.[3][9]

Lifestyle and reproduction

The striped polecat is a solitary creature, often only associating with other members of its species in small family groups or for the purpose of breeding. It is nocturnal, hunting mostly at night.[3] During the day it will burrow into the brush or sleep in the burrows of other animals.[10] Most often striped polecats are found in habitats with large ungulate populations, because of the lower level of shrub that often accompanies the presence of these grazers.[2][4][11]

After conception, the gestation period for a striped polecat is about four weeks. During this time the mother prepares a nest for her offspring. The newborn polecats will be completely vulnerable; they are born blind, deaf, and naked.[12] Around one to five offspring are born per litter in the summer season. Up to six can be supported at one time because the mother has six teats.[13] The mother will protect her young until they are able to survive on their own.[10]

Defense mechanisms

The striped polecat is an aggressive and very territorial animal. It marks its territory with its feces and through an anal spray.[14] The spray serves as a defense against predators, in a similar manner as employed by skunks. The spray, released by anal stink glands, temporarily blinds their adversaries and irritates the mucous membranes, resulting in an intense burning sensation.[15] Before spraying the opponent with this noxious fluid, the striped polecat will often take a deimatic (threat) stance with its back arched, rear end facing the opponent, and tail straight up in the air.[10]

Communication

Striped polecats have been known to communicate with each other using a myriad of verbal signals and calls. Growls are used to act as a warning to possible predators, competitors, or other enemies to back off. High pitched screams have been observed as signifying situations of high aggression or accompanying the spraying of anal emissions. An undulating high to low pitched scream has been used to convey surrender or submission to an adversary. This call has been noted to accompany the subsequent release of the loser. Conversely, a quieter undulating call has been interpreted as functioning as a friendly salutation. Mating calls are common forms of communication between the sexes. Finally, young polecats often have a specific set of calls and signals, used when they are in adolescence, either signifying a feeling of distress or joy depending on if the mother is absent or present.[16][17]

References

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Ictonyx striatus". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b c Stuart, C.; Stuart, T. & Hoffmann, M. (2008). "Ictonyx striatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Walker, Clive (1996). Signs of the Wild. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. p. 56.
  4. ^ a b c Estes, Richard (1991). The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 429. ISBN 9780520272972.
  5. ^ Skinner & Chimimba (2005). The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 504. ISBN 9780521844185.
  6. ^ Hoath, Richard (2009). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press. p. 84. ISBN 9789774162541.
  7. ^ Newman; Buesching & Wolff (2005). The function of facial masks in midguild carnivores (PDF). Oxford: Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Dept of Zoology. p. 632.
  8. ^ Estes, Richard (1991). The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. pp. 422&429.
  9. ^ Skinner & Chimimba (2005). The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 504.
  10. ^ a b c Stuart & Stuart (2001). Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishing. p. 132.
  11. ^ Blaum; A c t a O e c o l o g i c a; et al. (22 December 2007). "Shrub encroachment affects mammalian carnivore abundance and species richness in semiarid rangelands". Acta Oecologica. 31: 86–92. doi:10.1016/j.actao.2006.10.004.
  12. ^ Estes, Richard (1991). The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 424.
  13. ^ Hoath, Richard (2009). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press. p. 85. ISBN 9789774162541.
  14. ^ Estes, Richard (1991). The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 422.
  15. ^ Estes, Richard (1991). The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 419.
  16. ^ Estes, Richard (1991). The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 431.
  17. ^ Channing & Rowe-Rowe (1 January 1977). "VOCALIZATIONS OF SOUTH-AFRICAN MUSTELINES". Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie. 44 (3): 283–293. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.1977.tb00996.x.
  • Larivière, Serge (2002). Ictonyx striatus". Mammalian Species (698):1–5.
  • Nowak, Ronald M. (2005). Walker's Carnivores of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 0-8018-8032-7

External links

Asiatic linsang

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.

Bdeogale

Bdeogale is a genus of three species of mongoose native to the rainforests of central and western Africa. They are primarily terrestrial and insectivorous.

Flat-headed kusimanse

The flat-headed kusimanse (Crossarchus platycephalus) is a dwarf mongoose endemic to Benin, Cameroon and Nigeria. This species was once regarded as a subspecies of the common kusimanse (Crossarchus obscurus).

Hemigalinae

The Hemigalinae are a subfamily of the viverrids denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864. This subfamily comprises the four monospecific genera:

Hemigalus

Chrotogale

Cynogale

Diplogale

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.

Ictonyx

Ictonyx is a genus in the family Mustelidae (weasels). It contains two species :

Saharan striped polecat (Ictonyx libycus)

Striped polecat (Ictonyx striatus)

Lutrogale

Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Mephitis (genus)

The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.

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.

Paradoxurus

Paradoxurus is a genus within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. As of 2005, this genus was defined as comprising three species native to Southeast Asia:

the Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)

the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)

the brown palm civet (P. jerdoni)In 2009, it was proposed to also include the golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus), the Sri Lankan brown palm civet (P. montanus) and the golden dry-zone palm civet (P. stenocephalus), which are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Patagonian weasel

The Patagonian weasel (Lyncodon patagonicus) is a small mustelid that is the only member of the genus Lyncodon. Its geographic range is the Pampas of western Argentina and sections of Chile. An early mention of the animal is in the Journal of Syms Covington, who sailed with Charles Darwin on his epic voyage aboard HMS Beagle.

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.

Pusa

Pusa is a genus of the earless seals, within the family Phocidae. The three species of this genus were split from the genus Phoca, and some sources still give Phoca as an acceptable synonym for Pusa.

The three species in this genus are found in Arctic and subarctic regions, as well as around the Caspian Sea. This includes these countries and regions: Russia, Scandinavia, Britain, Greenland, Canada, the United States, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Japan. Due to changing local environmental conditions, the ringed seals found in the Canadian region has varied patterns of growth. The northern Canadian ringed seals grow slowly to a larger size, while the southern seals grow quickly to a smaller size.

Only the Caspian seal is endangered.

Saharan striped polecat

The Saharan striped polecat, also known as the Saharan striped weasel, Libyan striped weasel, and the North African striped weasel (Ictonyx libycus) is a species of mammal in the family Mustelidae. This animal is sometimes characterized as being a part of the genus Poecilictis, and its coloration resembles that of the striped polecat.

Speothos

Speothos is a genus of canid found in Central and South America. The genus includes the living bush dog, Speothos venaticus, and an extinct Pleistocene species, Speothos pacivorus. Unusually, the fossil species was identified and named before the extant species was discovered, with the result that the type species of Speothos is S. pacivorus.

Viverra

Viverra is a mammalian genus that was first nominated and described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 as comprising several species including the large Indian civet (V. zibetha). The genus was subordinated to the viverrid family by John Edward Gray in 1821.

Zorilla

Zorilla may refer to:

Striped polecat, a species of mustelid

Zorilla, the nickname of Chicago Cubs player Ben Zobrist (born 1981)

Extant Carnivora species

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