Saharan striped polecat

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Saharan striped polecat
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Ictonyx
Species: I. libycus
Binomial name
Ictonyx libycus
(Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833)
Saharan Striped Polecat area.png
Saharan striped polecat range

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 family Mustelidae.[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 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]


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]


  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 (PDF). 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.