The Polecat, one of the most hated small mammals in Britain is making a steady comeback. Almost completely wiped out a hundred years ago due to it’s taste for chicken, it has, until recently, only been spotted in the Welsh countryside and a very remote area of Scotland.
They are now spreading out across the southwest and south of England, and into Suffolk and Norfolk.
This is seen as a victory for conservationism. However, I’m not convinced that these disease carrying, sometimes even rabid bundles of fur should be any more welcome than a plague of rats! The Wikipedia pages on the polecat make for some interesting, somewhat horrifying reading
It occasionally cripples its prey by piercing its brain with its teeth and stores it, still living, in its burrow for future consumption.
Not so cute now! And when it comes to diseases,
In mainland Europe, it is a carrier of trichinosis, leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis and adiaspiromycosis. Incidences of polecats carrying rabies are high in some localized areas
So pretty much like rats then! I guess the pelts are more valuable than rats’ though…
The European polecat is a valuable fur bearer, whose pelt (fitch) is more valuable than the steppe polecat’s. Its skin is used primarily in the production of jackets, capes and coats. It is particularly well suited for trimmings for women’s clothing. The tail is sometimes used for the making of paintbrushes. One disadvantage of polecat skin, however, is its unpleasant odour, which is difficult to remove. The European polecat was first commercially farmed for its fur in Great Britain during the 1920s, but was only elevated to economic importance in Finland in 1979. It never became popular in the USA and Canada, due to import laws regarding non-native species. It did gain economic importance in the USSR, though.
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