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Marbled polecat

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Marbled polecat
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The Marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna) is a small mammal belonging to the genus Vormela within the Mustelidae subfamily.

The marbled polecat is found from southeast Europe to Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, north-western Pakistan, northern India, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

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. The tail is dark brown with a yellowish band in the midregion.

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.

The marbled polecat were once sought for their fur. 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.

Marbled polecats are solitary and like to live alone. 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 gland located under their 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 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 have also been recorded as taking small domestic poultry such as chickens and pigeons, as well as stealing smoked meat and cheese.