Polecat – Mustela putorius
Generally has dark brown fur with creamy underfur that shows through. Thin dark brown/blackish coat in summer, but thicker paler coat in winter. Dark facial ‘bandit’ mask (dark always extends down to nose). There is white fur on muzzle, ‘eyebrows’ and ear margins. Long neck and body with short legs. Body length of 32-45cm and tail length 12-19cm.
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Droppings: Droppings have the typical twisted mustelid appearance. They are similar to American mink droppings but contain no fish remains and some plant material. Approximately 60-80mm long and 10mm thick. Colour: blackish. Smell: Foul smelling; like foetid meat, a distinctly unpleasant smell.
American mink (Neovison vison)
American mink is a very similar size to the polecat. Mink is usually all dark brown besides a white patch under the chin. Polecat generally has blackish fur with creamy underfur that shows through, with a dark bandit mask over pale fur on the face.
Pine marten (Martes martes)
Pine marten is larger than polecat and the ears are larger and more conspicuous. Pine marten is dark brown with a paler cream/yellow bib down the throat and chest. Polecat has white band above the eyes and around the mouth, creating the appearance of a bandit mask, the pine marten does not have these facial markings. The pine marten has a much longer tail which is bushier than that of the polecat.
Pure polecats have patches or a band of pale fur above the eyes and around the mouth, creating the appearance of a bandit mask (in pure polecat the dark always extends down to the nose). Polecat-ferret often has paler body fur has faded facial markings. Pure polecat has blackish fur with a cream underfur that shows through. Polecat-ferret may have cream patches on the throat which a pure polecat would not have. It is very difficult to distinguish between the two without genetic testing.