Mustela putorius and Mustela furo
The polecat (Mustela putorius) had been persecuted to extinction in Scotland by the early 20th century.
Polecat populations derived from released animals exist in Argyll and Perthshire and possibly elsewhere, but true polecats are among Scotland’s rarest mammals.
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As ferrets are widely kept in captivity, a high number of animals escape to the wild each year. It is thus tricky to verify where self-sustaining feral, and truly wild populations exist.
They are a secretive species and are nocturnal. Although can be spotted all year round, like most mammals, they tend to be more active during spring and summer.
The name polecat is said to have derived from the French “poulet-chat” meaning chicken-cat, as they have commonly preyed on farmers’ chickens in the past.