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.
Distribution in Egypt
Narrow (mainly Mediterranean coast).
Length: 23-28 cm. Weight: 200 gm.
Habitat and Ecology
The Saharan striped polecat inhabits in sandy or stony desert and cultivated land.
Life History and Behavior
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.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Status in Egypt
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. This animal is sometimes characterized as being a part of the genus Poecilictis, and its coloration resembles that of the striped polecat. 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.
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.
It eats a diet primarily of eggs, small birds, small mammals, and lizards.
Lifestyle and Reproduction
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.
Relation with humans
In Tunisia these animals are often caught and exploited because of the tribal belief that they may increase male fertility.
- 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
- Newman, Buesching, and Wolff (2005). The function of facial masks in ‘‘midguild’’ carnivores. Oxford: Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Dept of Zoology. p. 632.
- 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.
- the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. ". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species".
- Hoath, Richard (2009). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press. pp. 82–84.
- Hoath, Richard (2009). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press. p. 83.
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