Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

The Saharan striped polecat is a small and long haired weasel. It has distinctive coloration with longitudinal alternating black and white lines. Limbs short and tail longer than half of the body length. Ears and snout short. On the head between eyes and ears white spot. Three broad black lines extending along the body starting behind the ears, the central one dividing into 2-3 additional small lines middorsally and all joining together at the end of the body.

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Distribution

Range Description

Present in northern Africa from Morocco and Senegal to Egypt and Eritrea. Their distribution is poorly known (Cuzin in press). Their range apparently overlaps with that of the Zorilla Ictonyx striatus in some regions, such as in northern Nigeria and in central and eastern Sudan (Niethammer 1987).
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Distribution in Egypt

Narrow (mainly Mediterranean coast).

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 23-28 cm. Weight: 200 gm.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Found only in desert fringes, mountains and oases, and sub-deserts. They favour sparse to very sparse vegetation cover, dominated by small bushes, except where they occur in cultivated areas (Cuzin in press).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The Saharan striped polecat inhabits in sandy or stony desert and cultivated land.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

Nocturnal species, spending day underground in holes it digs with very strong elaborate claws. Saharan striped polecat feeds on small mammals (desert rodents, especially jerboa), ground-nesting birds, reptiles, insects and near houses it feed on domesticated birds, killing them by making a hole in the back of the skull. Forage solitarily. Saharan striped polecat probably territorial species and may play dead to avoid being attacked. The breeding season of the Saharan striped polecat is known to be from January to March and female gives birth of one to three naked young after a gestation period of not less than 37 days.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Little is known about the longevity of these animals, but one specimen lived 5.8 years in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Hoffmann, M., Cuzin, F. & de Smet, K.

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) and Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern as the species has a wide distribution range, is not uncommon, and there are no obvious major threats.
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Status in Egypt

Native, resident.

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Population

Population
There is limited reliable information on the population status of this species. They are not uncommon, and are reportedly abundant in coastal dunes, but numbers are probably subject to periodic fluctuations (Cuzin in press).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats, but they may be subject to competition with Least Weasel Mustela nivalis in the most productive habitats (e.g., in Morocco: F. Cuzin pers. comm. 2007). Although their meat is not eaten, they are exploited in Tunisia in the belief that they are capable of increasing human male fertility, and there is even some international trade (e.g. from Tunisia into Libya: K. de Smet pers. comm.).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Protected by law in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia (K. de Smet pers. comm.). Presumably present in several protected areas across their range.
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Wikipedia

Saharan striped polecat

The Saharan striped polecat, also known as the Saharan striped weasel, Libyan striped weasel, and the North African Striped Weasel (Ictonyx libycus) is a species of mammal in the Mustelidae family.[2] This animal is sometimes characterized as being a part of the genus Poecilictis, and its coloration resembles that of the striped polecat.[3] It is found in various North African countries including, but not limited to, Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, and Tunisia. It is most often found in those areas that are dry and characterized by very little brush.[4]

Physical Characteristics[edit]

Saharan striped polecats are about 55–70 cm in length, including their tails, and generally weigh between .5 and .75 kg. It is striped white in a non-uniform fashion and has black feet, legs, ears, and underside. Often a white ring goes around the face and above a black snout. It is sometimes confused with the striped polecat though it is generally smaller and has distinct facial markings.[5]

Diet[edit]

It eats a diet primarily of eggs, small birds, small mammals, and lizards.[6]

Lifestyle and Reproduction[edit]

The Saharan striped polecat is nocturnal and solitary. It hides out in the day time in other animals' burrows or digs its own. It generally gives birth to one to three completely vulnerable, baby polecats during the spring time.[5]

Defense Mechanisms[edit]

This creature is known to spray a foul, skunk-like anal emission when threatened.[2] Before releasing the anal emission it will fluff itself up in an attempt to warn the potential attacker.[6]

Relation with humans[edit]

In Tunisia these animals are often caught and exploited because of the tribal belief that they may increase male fertility.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hoffmann, M., Cuzin, F. & de Smet, K. (2008). Ictonyx libyca. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 21 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  2. ^ a b Newman, Buesching, and Wolff (2005). The function of facial masks in ‘‘midguild’’ carnivores. Oxford: Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Dept of Zoology. p. 632. 
  3. ^ Ball, Marion (1 January 1978). "Reproduction in captive-born zorillas". International Zoo Yearbook 18 (1): 140. doi:10.1111/j.1748-1090.1978.tb00245.x. 
  4. ^ a b the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. ". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". 
  5. ^ a b Hoath, Richard (2009). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press. pp. 82–84. 
  6. ^ a b Hoath, Richard (2009). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press. p. 83. 


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