From: "Marie Bartholdsson"
Date: 2004-01-10 23:25:50 UTC
Subject: RE: [ferrethealth] re: How firm are wild polecat and ferret stools?
I've seen quite a bit of polecat scats in the wild (Swedish populations) and
also have experience of captive kept animals.
In the wild:
One will typically find a larger latrine near the den(s). They also drop
faeces along their trail. Bigger scats are usually deposited less visibly,
while the smaller ones (and often very smelly scats) are deposited visible
on prominent features such as rocks, fallen trees, or right in the middle of
a path etc. to mark out the territory and as a message to other polecats.
The staple diet in the summer consists of small rodents, frogs and other
amphibians (amphibians mainly in the spring). In the winter they eat
primarily rodents and carrion. When available (mostly in the spring), they
eat hares, rabbits and birds.
A diet of amphibians and particularly frogs result in looser stools, however
it's unusual to find a splatty, or pudding-like dropping. The faeces still
have the tubular look, and contain bone fragments and sometimes scales. A
diet of birds will give looser stools too, but are still tubular containing
some feather and bone. Prey like rodents, rabbits etc will give firm faeces,
and this type of droppings seem to be the most commonly found. A typical
fresh polecat dropping is firm, cylindrical, twisted and tapered to one end.
If taken apart, one will find bone fragments and lots of hair. It's very
different from the stools of a kibble-eating ferret.
Comparison between captive polecats and ferrets fed an all natural diet
consisting of mainly chicken, rabbit, and mice:
Ferrets generally have somewhat looser stools than polecats, regardless of
the type of meat they are fed. The ferret droppings have the tubular shape,
but while polecat droppings are easy to pick up and remove, ferret droppings
are often more messy to clean up and smell more too. Ferrets also seem to
produce more; maybe it's just the looser stools that makes it look that way.
It also takes more food to sustain the average ferret than the average
polecat. Someone told me that ferrets have a shorter GI tract than polecats.
Don't know if that's true, but I must say the polecats appear to have a more
I can get you pictures if you like, Sukie.
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