Chordates • Earth.com

European polecat

(Mustela putorius)

galery

Description

The European polecat or skunk,(properly called Mustela putorius,Linnaeus 1758) is a carnivorous mammal of the family Mustelidae.With the same name are sometimes also designated species belonging to the genus Mephitis and Ictonyx,whose correct common name is instead skunks for the first and zorille for the latter,with which the skunk is only distantly related,but with which it shares the characteristic ability to secrete a malodorous secretion from specific sub-estal glands: the species instead shares a much more direct link with other mustelid species such as the European mink (Mustela lutreola),with which it is easily hybridized.Dimensions: Measure up to 60 cm in length,of which up to 20 cm belong to the tail,for a weight that can exceed a kilo and a half: these maximum values,however,refer exclusively to male specimens,as in this species males are much larger than females,weighing twice as much and measuring up to a third more.Appearance: The body has a cylindrical shape and is elongated and tapered,in contrast to the short and stout legs: when the animal runs,it performs large strides bending like a caterpillar,acquiring a totally unexpected speed.The head is massive and rounded,with a characteristic mandibular conformation,almost sealed to the rest of the skull which gives the animal an exceptional grip during the bite.The hair,sparse and silky in summer and thick and silky in winter,is dark brown on the back,with a tendency to darken as you go towards the ventral area,which,as well as the legs and tail,tends to the black color: there is also a thick undercoat of cream color,whose presence is particularly evident on the sides of the animal.The head,also black,has white or cream-colored patterns on the ears,muzzle and cheeks that form a curious mask around the eyes.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Class: Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Mustelidae
Genus:Mustela
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