A European polecat


Polecats are solitary and predominantly nocturnal weasel-like animals, where the males are quite obviously larger and heavier than the females. They produce a strong musky scent from anal glands when threatened, and this is also used to mark their territories. These streamlined predators can lock their jaws together so tightly it can be near impossible to prise them apart. Ferrets are the domesticated descendants of the polecat.

Scientific name: Mustela putorius

Rank: Species

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Map showing the distribution of the Polecat taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Polecat can be found in a number of locations including: Asia, Europe, Mediterranean, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales, Ynys-hir nature reserve. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Polecat distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Decreasing

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

BBC News about Polecat