Wild Polecats

Fursty Ferret

Well-Known Member
Anyone else seeing a real surge in numbers of the wild European Polecat in the UK.
Never ever used to see them in Suffolk but now they are everywhere.
Since last year I encounter them regularly.
 

Nick703

Well-Known Member
Yeah, see them regularly on my two permissions an One is local and my other land is an hours drive,usually see one dead on the road whilst travelling to my furthest land,I filmed one on my phone whilst out foxing it was back an forward all night fetching baby rabbits
 

woody

Well-Known Member
I found a really young one in a layby near Ludlow covered in fly eggs, my girlfriend was keen to look after it so 4 yrs later still have it, it bites everyone but her, called it sock as when I first saw it, I was going to pick it up with an old sock and it sank it's teeth into it and I was able to move it to a box.
 

VSS

Well-Known Member
Yes, been increasing steadily for the past 15 years or so, to the extent that on some journeys through parts of Wales they are now the most common squashed animal I see on the roads. Also, when travelling the full width of the UK from the north western tip of Wales to coastal Suffolk I see dead ones by the roadside at all stages of the journey.
 

Nick703

Well-Known Member
9F9C55F8-08C1-4FFF-9D0A-2F818DDA0E8B.jpegThis is a screenshot of the video I did on my phone,I was out all night foxing and was watching it with n/v on screen in the truck,it fetched 4 more rabbits after daybreak using the same route each time so I hid behind a gate post and filmed it,keeper set a tunnel trap and had it next morning .
 

sir-lamp-alot

Well-Known Member
I see the odd one now and again it wiltshire but the ones ive seen absolutly dwarf domestic ferrets, maybe 3x the size (you centainly want to grab hold of one!) dont know if this is what other people are finding
 

caberslash

Well-Known Member
Not sure why it's protected here (along with loads of other vermin), the British countryside was probably at it's peak at the turn of the last century before all the environMENTALists got involved, trouble was only the lords and ladies who were really enjoying it (keepers, gardeners and workers kept it nice and productive but they literally gave their lives for it).

Needless to say after two world wars a lot of land knowledge was lost and many estates fell into disrepair which they have never recovered from since.

Biggest threats to the British countryside are not the sporting estates but future housing estates!

Not a problem I want to waste my time trying to solve...
 

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
Are these Polecats truly wild polecats, or are they simply domesticated ferrets that have been lost whilst working, escaped or simply been released, which have then gone onto breed with other feral ferrets and built up a healthy population.

is there actually any real difference between a Polecat and a Ferret, or is it the same a Wild Boar and Pigs or wolves and dogs where domestic animals have gone wild it doesn’t take many generations before they revert back to being the wild animal
 

mudman

Well-Known Member
The biggest threat to the UK countryside is , has been and will be the industrialisation of agriculture, in particular the various chemical treatments. That is what has done for a lot of our wildlife.
 

BryanDC

Well-Known Member
Are these Polecats truly wild polecats, or are they simply domesticated ferrets that have been lost whilst working, escaped or simply been released, which have then gone onto breed with other feral ferrets and built up a healthy population.

is there actually any real difference between a Polecat and a Ferret, or is it the same a Wild Boar and Pigs or wolves and dogs where domestic animals have gone wild it doesn’t take many generations before they revert back to being the wild animal
Genetically I am not sure there is any difference in them. Ferrets are domesticated polecats. Like many domesticated animals humans have bred them for their own purposes so most ferrets will be a little smaller than a wild polecat and of course most of them are white. But as you say I don't think it would take many generations for the polecat characteristics to come back if they are breeding together in the wild as the albino genes are recessive.
 

J.kerslake

Well-Known Member
Genetically I am not sure there is any difference in them. Ferrets are domesticated polecats. Like many domesticated animals humans have bred them for their own purposes so most ferrets will be a little smaller than a wild polecat and of course most of them are white. But as you say I don't think it would take many generations for the polecat characteristics to come back if they are breeding together in the wild as the albino genes are recessive.
I wouldn’t say “most” of them are white/albino, some are...
 

JMikeyH

Well-Known Member
I think I saw one whilst I was out lamping rabbits not that long ago in Warwickshire. Whatever it was it didn't hang about for long, predator's eyes and ran like a ferret but it was such a fleeting glimpse I couldn't get a positive look. Was seen over a rabbit warren.
 

old keeper

Well-Known Member
As far as I know, the only sure way to tell the difference between ferrets and polecats is by measuring the skull. I suspect many of the "polecats" are in fact ferrets as they will breed readily in the wild, and some of the dog ferrets (hobs) will be pretty big. About five years ago there was a litter of albino ferrets born in the wild near me, I saw them several times.
Certainly, after a relatively short time, wild escapees and their offspring will soon revert to their wild ways.
I always understood that true wild polecats were pretty rare but as the two species look almost identical it's hard to be sure which is which!
 

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
The biggest threat to the UK countryside is , has been and will be the industrialisation of agriculture, in particular the various chemical treatments. That is what has done for a lot of our wildlife.
Agree - biggest threat worldwide is Agriculture and development. Blaming reduction on songbirds to a rise in raptors, or ground nesting birds to a rise in Badger numbers, or lack of Salmon on Otters and Merganser's is completely missing the point. Large acres of cereals a sterile monoculture that can support very little wildlife, and large factory trawlers have just hoovered up all wild fish - so much so that many species are no effectively extinct as a commercial species - think wild caught Salmon, Herring or Newfoundland Cod.
 

The fourth Horseman

Well-Known Member
Had a spate of them in the Scottish Borders. Kept seeing them in pairs on our estate and next doors. A right pain, they appeared on our boundary 4 times, a week apart exactly. You don't need an Ifor Williams to move them about, but they weren't appearing by magic. They did however tend to disappear that way with a couple of abacadabras being said.🤪
 

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