Steppe polecat : photo and description , behavior, reproduction.Why steppe polecat listed as endangered ?

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Who is steppe polecat?Photo of funny fur animal is able to melt the most callous heart.About ferrets goes a lot of myths - say they are cruel looters chicken coops.But small predators bred in captivity - and not only in the fur farms for their fur.They took the same position as dogs and cats.People are increasingly bred them as playful and affectionate pets.In Medieval Europe ferrets then played the role of small cats.They catch mice barns, creating coziness.It called a domesticated ferret ferrets, or furo.Scientists believe that this is a special subspecies of wild albino animal.Incidentally, the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine 'beautiful young woman is holding it Ferret.But in this article we will not so much about ferrets as about its wild relatives, who live in the forest and steppe.

Numerous musteline

In scientific classification called steppe polecat Mustela eversmanni.It belongs to the weasel family.That is distantly related animal are stoats, mink, solongoi, columns and, in fact, martens.This is a small carnivorous mammal belongs to the genus weasels and ferrets.In the second word of the scientific names of animal - eversmanni - brought tribute to the Russian zoologist EA Eversmann (1794-1860), who described this species.The closest relatives are the inhabitant of the forest steppe (Mustela putorius) and the black-footed (Mustela nigripes) Hori and ferret (Mustela putorius furo).They can mate with each other and provide viable offspring.Man was derived many hybrids: for example, the polecat-mink hybrid, resulting from the union of a mink.Although ferrets are all kinds of different habitats, they quickly adjust to new conditions.Thus, forest ferrets were brought to New Zealand to deal with the growing population of rats.As a result, small predators have adapted is now threatened by the indigenous fauna of the island.

Habitat ferrets

All three species common in Eurasia, North America, and northwest Africa, where it is thought to have been domesticated and furo.In Russia, inhabited forest (dark) and steppe (light) Hori.Although color is not the main feature of the species.Among ferrets frequent cases of albinism, as they may be dark or ermine suit.For all kinds of peculiar characteristic "mask" on the face.Steppe polecat lives in open areas in China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Central Asia, in southern Siberia, Eastern and Central Europe.He avoids forests, mountains and settlements.Prefers lowland steppe, semidesert, beams.His Forest counterpart, on the contrary, is found in woods and forests.Black-footed ferret habitat - the forests of North America.Domesticated about two thousand years ago in Africa and the Iberian Peninsula furo has non-aggressive and gentle nature in the wild he can not feed themselves.

ferret steppe: description of the type

This - the largest animal of all animal species.The body length of an adult male reaches 56 cm, and weight - two kilograms.At the same time the animal pretty impressive (up to 18 cm) tail, which he in danger raspushivaet.Guard hairs are high, but rare.Thanks to this feature visible light and dense underfur.Dark "mask" around the eyes is typical for all kinds of Mustela, but at the steppe ferret is more clearly as wearing a white head.The legs and tail (or tip) dark.Moves animal jumps.Steppe polecat, a photo of which is the "calling card" for other types of "Mask of Zorro", preys on ground squirrels, hamsters, pikas, and other rodents.Do not hesitate to take it and the big locust.Ravaged the land birds nest.Its diet also includes frogs, lizards, at least - the snake.Individuals living near the shores of rivers and lakes show great ability to swim.Then they get food and water voles.

number of species on the territory of Russia

In the steppe and forest steppe of the European part of the Russian Federation distributed the western subspecies of light ferret.In the south of Siberia, the Zeya-Bureya plain and in the Amur region is found very valuable biotype.Bright polecat population has shrunk to alarming proportions in the fifties of the last century.Basically - because of the uncontrolled production of furs and reduce places of natural habitat.On the one hand, reducing the area of ​​forests in the area between the Amur-Zeya expanded area of ​​steppe polecat, but on the other, the development of these lands for the survival of the subspecies of farmland put at risk.Already in the sixties, this animal is very rare Stavan hunted.In the '70s he met every year, and only near the Amur River.Thus, we can conclude that in the Russian Federation get individuals from the right bank (China).Despite the fact that now the Amur steppe polecat in the Red Book of Russia, its population has been steadily declining.

Habits steppe polecat

Mainly animal has a solitary lifestyle.Sometimes, increasing the population in a limited area, may form clusters.Then, in the group of animals started the process of building a gregarious behavior of the hierarchy, subordination and domination.Steppe ferrets often credited with "crimes" committed by foxes, weasels and martens.In fact, it is - a useful animal as destroys, or rather, control the number of rodents.Long and thin body light polecat helps it penetrate for their prey in holes.Sometimes he uses them for their own homes.Although nature has provided the steppe polecat muscular legs with strong claws, burrow it digs rare.Sometimes the animal buries food in store for times of famine, but often forget about these "stashes".Natural enemies of steppe polecats are birds of prey and foxes.In an emergency animal uses smelly and pungent secret anal glands, which shoots at the enemy.

Reproduction

In regions cohabitation steppe polecat and often crossed.Therefore, there are populations and black (dark) animals.Although the number of chromosomes in two species different: thirty-eight the inhabitants of the steppes, forty - the inhabitants of the forests.Steppe polecat outside the breeding season kept apart, but its territory is not aiming not guarded.If two same-sex individuals meet aggression to each other, they do not reveal.But males fight for a female, ruthlessly biting and squealing loudly.Ladies on the kind of slightly less than the Cavaliers, but the weight is easier to them almost by half: two kilograms versus 1,200.Females birthing expand and equip the wrong hole, paving the their hay, feathers and down.Less often they dig themselves home.May choose to stack or low hole located hollow tree.Father takes part in rearing.If Young for some reason die, the female is able to hybridize again after seven - twenty days.Although the mating season usually begins in late winter.

Reproduction

Eighteen months after mating, the female gives birth to between four and ten (rarely fifteen) naked, blind and completely helpless pups.Young eyes open only a month.Steppe polecat - a very caring parent.The female does not leave the kids until they will acquire fur.The father brings his girlfriend food.The female brings up cubs milk for about three months.But even earlier, at the age of eight weeks, the young are already learning to find food.When the lactation period is completed, young disperse in search of territory.Puberty comes at them at the end of the first year of life.In females pregnancy can occur two to three times a year.

Lifetime

Alas, ferret in nature, regardless of the type, lives an average of three to four years.High mortality in children (sometimes killed the entire litter), a lot of natural enemies, the restriction of habitats due to deforestation and plowing of the steppes and meadows, reducing populations.Furthermore, ferrets prone to epidemic diseases.They die from the plague frugivores, rabies skryabingileza.In captivity, a balanced diet and the necessary veterinary care, ferrets live up to eight, at least ten years.

Forest polecat

This animal has darker fur than with his fellow steppe.As already noted, the number of chromosomes in different related species, which does not prevent them to create hybrids between them, as well as mink and speakers.Externally polecat also have, though minor, but the differences.It is a small and graceful.The length of the body of the male - up to fifty cm, tail - seventeen cm and weight - just half a kilogram.His skull is not as heavy as in the steppe polecat, and behind the orbits not greatly compressed.Ears had rounded, small.Forest weasel inhabit mainly Europe.In Russia, the Urals found.It lives, such as the name suggests, in the woods and even small groves.The color of the animal fur is dark brown, but the tail, paws, throat and chest - almost black.The diet at the steppe polecat and similar - Muridae rodents, toads, frogs, eggs and young birds.Can eat a predator and leverets.Forest polecat also loves to dig holes, preferring to borrow someone else's.

Blackfoot ferret

This - the smallest species of the family Mustela.It is distributed in North America - in Canada and the United States.The body length of the animal - the whole forty-five cm and weight - a little more than a kilogram.Black-footed ferret fur is very beautiful: at the base of White, and the tips of the hair gradually darkens.This color gives a general yellowish fur-bearing animals.Because of the black-footed ferret fur was among the endangered species.Fortunately, people stopped in time by the extermination of fur-bearing animals.American polecat included in the Red Book of the United States.But until 1996 this species living only in captivity.Now they began to produce in a natural habitat.At this time, there are about six individuals.American black-footed ferret eats mainly marmots, shamelessly taking their burrows.To survive, the family of the Blackfeet ferrets need to eat two hundred and fifty rodents a year, so they live near a cluster of its game.

Fretka or furo

is known that Mustela putorius furo was removed from the dark forest polecat.They have the same number of chromosomes, they give quite healthy and able to continue the race offspring.But domestication often took albino animals.Therefore, for furo stuck another name - white ferret.Not everyone likes red eyes and poor health albinos.To strengthen his ferrets sometimes crossed with wild wild relatives, so color fur in domestic animals can vary: sable, pearl, yellow, golden.In terms of intelligence, they are close to the cats.But they not only respond to the name, but also able to walk on a leash and perform various commands like a dog.Young ferrets are very playful and mobile.The animal becomes attached to his master, trusting other people.

Care ferrets

Breeders often furo assure potential buyers that the care of small animals need a minimum because ferrets are omnivorous.This is not quite true.The fact that ferrets, ferret, and including, are obligate carnivores.This means that their food may be animals that are comparable in size to them.In the wild ferrets do not eat beef and pork.But this does not mean that the owner of ferret should catch ground squirrels to feed your pet.Ferrets respond well to poultry and rabbit.From time to time they can give veal, lamb and offal.With fish need to be careful.Ferret can only flounder, jack mackerel, haddock, mackerel, cod and trout.Master furo (albino especially) should pay attention to the health of your pet.In addition to rabies and distemper, there are also specific disease ferrets.This viral plasmacytosis (Aleutian disease), and insulinoma hyperestrogenism.Ferrets are also infected with human flu.