Innovative mammal conservation

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All Polecat

Sainsbury, K. et al. (2020). Diets of European polecat Mustela putorius in Great Britain during fifty years of population recovery.

We analysed stomach contents from 99 polecats collected in 2012–2016 and compared results with earlier studies.


Sainsbury, K. et al. (2019). Recent history, current status, conservation and management of native mammalian carnivore species in Great Britain

This paper compares and contrasts the recent history and population status of Britain’s native mammalian carnivore species from the 1960s to 2017.

Photo: ©Frank Greenaway


Croose, E. et al. (2018). A review of the status of the Western polecat Mustela putorius: a neglected and declining species?

This paper reviews and summarises information on the polecat’s status and range-wide population trends.


Sainsbury, K. et al. (2018). Long-term increase in secondary exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides in European polecats Mustela putorius in Great Britain

This paper presents the results of analyses of polecat livers collected from road casualties for residues of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides.


Croose, E. (2016) The Distribution and Status of the Polecat (Mustela putorius) in Britain 2014-2015

Polecat distribution surveys at ten-year intervals have been recommended in order to monitor changes in polecat distribution. The aim of this survey was to gather up-to-date information on the distribution of polecats and polecat-ferrets during the period 2014-2015.

Banner photo: ©Nikki Charlton


Behaviour in Focus – Polecat

VWT’s Mustelid Conservation Officer, Lizzie Croose, gives an expert briefing on the polecat for BBC Wildlife Magazine.


The Polecat

The polecat is a native British mammal and is widespread in western Europe. The polecat belongs to the weasel family, the Mustelidae, comprising over 60 species of badgers, otters, skunks, martens, mink, ferrets, stoats and weasels. Like many in this family, the polecat has a long body with short legs. It is generally dark in colour, especially on its chest, legs and tail that are covered in near-black fur.


Polecats and Ferrets: How to tell them apart

This leaflet gives the key distinguishing characters that separate polecats, ferrets and their hybrids. Given their close relationship, it is not surprising that it may be very difficult to distinguish them in the field. Reliable ways of telling polecats and ferrets apart is from close examination of the pelage and skull of a specimen and analysis of mitochondrial DNA.


A guide to identifying the small mustelids of Britain and Ireland

The small mustelids are characterised by their long thin body shape, which enables them to follow their prey down small tunnels and burrows. However, because of their similar body shape they can be difficult to distinguish from each other. This guide helps with the identification of the mustelid family.


Quick-start guide to the identification of small mustelids

This ‘quick-start’ guide shows the distinguishing features of members of the small mustelid family in Britain and Ireland, which includes the otter, pine marten, polecat, polecat-ferret, mink, stoat and weasel. It also shows common small mustelid tracks and signs.

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