A member of the monotypic genus Vormela in the mustelid subfamily Ictonychinae is the marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna). The name Vormela is derived from the German word Würmlein, which means “little worm”. The word peregusna, which means “polecat” in Ukrainian, is derived from the word perehuznya. Typically, grasslands and drier regions of southeast Europe to western China are home to marbled polecats. When threatened, it can release a pungent fluid from anal sacs beneath the tail, just as other Ictonychinae members.
A little mammal called the Marbled polecat can be found in both Europe and Asia. These animals have huge, conspicuous ears and a small muzzle. The claws are long and powerful, while the limbs are short. The overall pelage is short, despite the tail’s length and its lengthy hair. The face is marked in white and black, with a white outline around the mouth and a black line across the eyes. The hair is yellow on the dorsum and is highly spotted with sporadic reddish or brown markings. The middle of the dark-brown tail has a yellowish stripe. The limbs and ventral region are dark brown in hue.
Polecats with marbling can be found from southeast Europe to China and Russia. Its range encompasses Yugoslavia, Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, Asia Minor, Bulgaria, Georgia, Turkey, Romania, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and the northwestern parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Altai Steppes in Siberia. In highland valleys, low hill ranges, steppe terrain, and open desert, semi-desert, and semiarid rocky areas, they reside. Additionally, developed regions like melon patches and vegetable fields are home to marbled polecats.
Habits and Lifestyle
The morning and evening are the busiest times of day for marooned polecats. They rely on their keen sense of smell because they have poor vision. In order to communicate, these animals use piercing warning calls, grunts, and a lengthy, submissive wail. Solitary marbled polecats constantly roam a large portion of their home range. Typically, they just spend one night in a shelter. They are typically hostile toward one another when they come into contact. When startled, Marbled polecats will stand up straight on their hind legs, arch their backs, and coil their long tail hair into an upright position.
Additionally, they might raise their heads, show their teeth, and hiss loudly or briefly. These animals have the ability to release a foul-smelling fluid from their Anal glands that are swollen under the tail. Polecats use the burrows of huge ground squirrels or other similar rodents for resting and reproducing. They could even construct their own dens or reside in irrigation tunnels buried underground. Marbled polecats surround their dens with grass during the winter.
Diet and Nutrition
Carnivores are marbled polecats. They consume ground squirrels, Libyan jirds, Armenian hamsters, house mice, mole rats, small hares, birds, lizards, fish, frogs, snails, and insects (beetles and crickets), in addition to other rodents. In addition to stealing fruit, grass, smoked meat, cheese, and small domestic poultry like hens and pigeons, these animals may also do so.
The marbled polecat’s mating process is poorly understood. They reproduce from early March to late May. Most frequently, people hear deep rumbling noises with a steady rhythm during their mating calls. Kits often arrive between the end of January and the middle of March after a long and variable gestation period that can last anywhere from 243 to 327 days. By delaying implantation, Marbled polecats can timing the birth of their offspring for ideal circumstances, including when prey is in plenty. There are 4 to 8 kits each litter.
The young are only taken care of by women. Kits wean themselves at 50–54 days after opening their eyes at roughly 38–40 days. At 61 to 68 days old, they become autonomous and separate from their mother. When young Marble cats are ready to reproduce, they have one year of age.
The loss of natural habitats due to conversion to agricultural is the biggest threat to marbled polecats. Rodenticide poisoning and population decreases in important prey species are two additional dangers. The poaching of marbled polecats for their fur is a problem in some locations.
The overall population size of the Marbled cat is not disclosed by the IUCN Red List or any other sources. This species’ populations are currently declining, and it is listed as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List.
As small rodent hunters, marbled polecats play a vital role in the habitats in which they reside.