The polecat is any of a group of Old-World mammals of the genera Mustela or Vormela of the weasel family. More specifically, "polecat" may refer the species Mustela putorius, the wild ancestor of the domesticated ferret.
Polecats are so called for their reputed habit of predation on domestic fowl (poules in the French) and known for their pungent musk. The latter may have led to applying the term "polecat" to the New World skunks, which are distant relatives. It bears noting that the European polecat usually has no white markings. Albino individuals are not unknown.
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