Polecat (putorius communis, Cuv.), a well known animal of the weasel family, spread over Europe and temperate Asia. It is about 15 in. long, the tail 6 in. additional, and 6 or 7 in. high; the general color is dark brown, fading into yellowish below, the legs and tail black, and the face whitish with a brown mask across the region of the eyes; the colors vary considerably. The form is elongated, the head short and rounded, the teeth the same as in the ferret, the feet five-toed with sharp claws, the mammse four and ventral, and the fur soft and thick. It is very active, pursuing living prey upon the ground, and rarely ascending trees; it is very sanguinary, but its size limits its depredations to small animals, such as domestic fowls, ground birds, squirrels, rabbits, and other rodents; it is strictly nocturnal, remaining concealed during the day in some outbuilding, as it generally lives in the neighborhood of man, and committing its havoc at night in the hen roost and dove cot; it is so wary as generally to escape traps. When alarmed or irritated, it emits a very disagreeable odor in the secretion of the anal glands, which attaches itself even to the fur, preventing that use of it to which its fineness entitles it.
The female generally makes her nest in a rabbit burrow, having killed or driven away the rabbit. Its habits and manner of killing its prey are the same as in the ferret. The common fur called fitch is that of the polecat, one of whose popular names is fitchet.
Polecat (Putorius communis).