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Monday Mustelid - Ictonyx ibicus Edition

Tis Monday, which means that it’s time for some fluff.

The Saharan Striped Polecat (Ictonyx ibicus) is a little-studied mustelid that can be found in the dry, sparse habitats of northern Africa. It is also known as the Saharan Striped Weasel, the North African Striped Weasel, and the Libyan Striped Weasel.


Adult Saharan Striped Polecats can grow to lengths of up to 27 inches (70 cm) from nose to tail, and weigh approximately 1.6 pounds (750 grams). Their coats are fluffier than one would expect of an animal living in hot dry climate, and are mostly dark brown or black with irregular pale stripes running down the back. They usually have white “headbands.”

The diet of the Saharan Striped Polecat consists primarily of insects, small reptiles, small mammals, small birds, and their small eggs. They are nocturnal, and usually spend the day in a burrow. They will either take over a burrow previously dug by a different animal or dig their own.


The reproductive habits of the Saharan Striped Polecat are not widely studied. Females generally give birth in the spring, and their litter size is one to three kits.


There are currently four recognized subspecies of Saharan Striped Polecat:

  • Ictonyx ibicus ibicus
  • Ictonyx ibicus multivittatus
  • Ictonyx ibicus oralis
  • Ictonyx ibicus rothschildi

Saharan Striped Polecats employ anal scent glands as a defense against predators, and are generally not hunted by humans. They have a wide distribution and are fairly common, which is why they are considered to be a species of least concern by the IUCN.

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