What do Polecats look like?
Polecats are members of the Weasel family, and like Stoats, Otters, Weasels and Pine Martens, a Polecat has a long body with short legs. Polecats are larger than Stoats and Weasels but smaller than Pine Martens and Otters. Their bodies are generally between 45cm and 60cm in length.
Polecats are generally dark in fur colour, especially on the tail, legs and chest that are commonly nearly black in colour. Polecats have paler under fur giving their bodies a lighter appearance, especially in the winter when the under fur is longer.
Polecats are most easily distinguished from other members of the Weasel family by the mask like pattern of dark and light fur on their faces.
What is the difference between a Polecat and a Ferret?
Polecats and Ferrets are genetically very similar. A Ferret is the product of the domestication of the Polecat and is more likely to be a pet than to be found in the wild, as domestication has reduced the Ferrets ability to fend for themselves. Polecat Ferret hybrids do exist and are very difficult to distinguish from a true Polecat. True and hybrid Polecats have recently been found in Dorset.
What is the legal protection of Polecats?
Polecats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Certain methods of killing or taking Polecats are prohibited under the act, and it is an offence to set a trap for a Polecat without obtaining a licence.