Visible Male/Female Differences
Males larger than females
Occurs in most habitats in Southern Africa,
most often seen dead on the road.
Insects and mice, also spiders,
scorpions and sun-spiders, birds and their eggs, reptiles and amphibians.
Litters of up to three are born October-March after gestation
3 of 6 days. Babies are pink and
hairless, unable to crawl the first week, when 10 days they crawl on all fours;
when 7-8 weeks trot after mother and a week thereafter displays defensive
threat. Young's eyes are open at 6 weeks and are weaned at 8 weeks.
Young are able to hunt and kill
rodents at 9
weeks and are full-grown at 20 weeks.
When 8-15 weeks play is a major activity. Striped Polecats produce one litter per year.
If the young die early the female will mate and breed again. Lifespan 4-5 years.
Behavior and Habits
Striped Polecats are active at night and solitary. They may be
groups are rarely seen. Rests during the day in holes dens in the ground, crevices or dense vegetation. Prey is detected by scent and sound
and underground insects
are dug up with the front paws. Rodents are killed with a bite to the neck.
Their very successful defense is a revolting-smelling secretion and they are rarely killed by any of the
When looking for insects,
sniffs loudly, with nose to ground and back arched, tail horizontal. Pounces
on flying insects and kills rodents by wedging teeth between 2 vertebrae, breaking
the spinal cord. When killing a snake it bites repeatedly near middle or tail, grasps the snake and shakes it repeatedly until snake uncoils after
which it pins it with
forefeet and bites it behind the head.
When foraging moves with a
springy trot. They are good swimmers.
Always seen singly.
Response to disturbance:
Threat display: loud
High intensity scream
and squirting: release call.
rising and falling: yapping.
Courting call: greeting
Yapping and chirping:
Dung and Field sign
Droppings are 4-5 cm long, 1 cm thick and contain insect
fragments and rodent remains.