- Peregusna peregusna Guldenstaedt, 1770
- Mustela peregusna Güldenstädt, 1770
Marbled Polecat, European Marbled Polecat
IUCN: VU; Be (II); RDBUkr: Рідкісні
Value of species
Game (hunting) species
Marbled Polecat occurs from south-east Europe through Asia Minor, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, to northern China and Mongolia. In Europe, it is found in Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkish Thrace, southern parts of Ukraine (but it has disappeared from most of the Ukraine, persisting only in the east), the south of the Russian Federation and the northern Caucasus (in the steppe areas, not the mountains). It is widespread in the Middle East, having been recorded from Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, northern Iraq and northern Saudi Arabia (Ellerman and Morrison-Scott 1951, Harrison 1968, Nader 1991, Werner 2012). In Israel its southern range border is retreating northward (Werner 2012). Two localities in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula (south-east of Bir El Abd and just north of Gabal El Maghara) constituted the first records from Egypt (Saleh and Basuony 1998). In China it has been recorded from the provinces of Nei Mongol, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai and Xinjiang (Wang 2003). In Mongolia it occurs in the west, south and, locally, centre (Dulamtseren et al. 2009). It occurs from sea level to 2,000 m, and up to 3,000 m in the Tien Shan Mountains.
Marbled Polecat is rare throughout much of its range, apparently naturally so. It is classed as 'Rare' in the Russian Federation. Its northern range border is receding in the Balkans, Ukraine, and European Russia, as is its southern border in Israel (Werner 2012). It has declined substantially in Europe in line with the loss of steppe habitats. Declines, even extirpation, are also suspected in much of the eastern part of its range (Sadikov 1983, Shagdarsuren and Erdenejav 1988, Anonymous 1991, Shiirevdamba 1997, Rozhnov 2001, Putintsev et al. 2002, Clark et al. 2006). It is believed to be less rare in central Asia than elsewhere, but even so, it is not common there. It was perhaps common in northern Sinai, Egypt, being well known to the local Bedouins (Saleh and Basuony 1998), but the most recent record from Sinai traced by Basuony et al. (2010) was from 1996 and they then considered it to be "very rare" in Egypt. The largest population in the Middle East is reported to be in Israel (M. Stubbe pers. comm. 2006).
This species inhabits desert, semi-desert and steppe habitats, but, at least in Israel, also cultivated landcapes (Werner 2012). It is a specialised predator, feeding mainly on desert and steppe rodents such as gerbils, ground squirrels and birds. It was recorded from a sparsely vegetated, sandy area southeast of Bir El Abd, northern Sinai, while another was recorded from a sandy area just north of Gabal El Maghara (Saleh and Basuony 1998). It is the most fossorial of all weasels.