FANDOM



The Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes), also known as the American polecat[2] or Prairie Dog Hunter,[3] is a species of Mustelid native to central North America. It is listed as endangered by the IUCN, because of its

Black-footed ferret
250px-Black footed ferret cropped

Origin

North America

Habitat

Prairie

Diet

Up to 91% of the black-footed ferret's diet is composed of prairie dogs

Combat status

Will fight the Capybara

very small and restricted populations. First discovered by Audubon and Bachman in 1851, the species declined throughout the 20th century, primarily as a result of decreases in prairie dog populations and sylvatic plague. It was declared extinct in 1979 until Lucille Hogg's dog brought a dead black-footed ferret to her door in Meeteetse, Wyoming in 1981. That remnant population of a few dozen ferrets lasted there until the animals were considered extinct in the wild in 1987. However, a captive breeding program launched by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service resulted in its reintroduction into eight western states and Mexico from 1991–2008. There are now over 1,000 mature, wild-born individuals in the wild in 18 states of the USA, with four self-sustaining populations in South Dakota (two), Arizona and Wyoming.[1][4]

The black-footed ferret is roughly the size of a mink, and differs from the European polecat by the greater contrast between its dark limbs and pale body and the shorter length of its black tail-tip. In contrast, differences between the black-footed ferret and the steppe polecat of Asia are slight, to the point where the two species were once thought to be conspecific.[5] The only noticeable differences between the black-footed ferret and the steppe polecat are the former's much shorter and coarser fur, larger ears, and longer postmolar extension of the palate.[6]

It is largely nocturnal and solitary, except when breeding or raising litters.[7][8] Up to 91% of its diet is composed of prairie dogs.


DescriptionEdit

The black-footed ferret has a very long body and a blunt head. The forehead is arched and broad, and the muzzle is short. It has few whiskers, and its ears are triangular, short, erect and broad at the base. The neck is long and the legs short and stout. The toes are armed with sharp, very slightly arched claws. The feet on both surfaces are covered in hair, even to the soles, thus concealing the claws.[13] It combines several physical features common in both members of the subgenus Gale (least, short-tailed and long-tailed weasels) and Putorius (European and steppe polecats). Its skull resembles that of polecats in its size, massiveness and the development of its ridges and depressions, though it is distinguished by the extreme degree of constriction behind the orbits where the width of the cranium is much less than that of the muzzle. Though similar in size to polecats, its attenuate body, long neck, very short legs, slim tail, large orbicular ears and close-set pelage is much closer in conformation to weasels and stoats.[14] The dentition of the black-footed ferret closely resembles that of the European and steppe polecat, though the back lower molar is vestigial, with a hemispherical crown which is too small and weak to develop the little cusps which are more apparent in polecats.[14]

Males measure 500–533 mm in body length and 114–127 mm in tail length, thus constituting 22–25% of its body length. Females are typically 10% smaller than males.[5] It weighs 650–1400 grams.[15] Captive-bred ferrets used for the reintroduction projects were found to be smaller than their wild counterparts, though these animals rapidly attained historical body sizes once released.[16]

The base color is pale yellowish or buffy above and below. The top of the head and sometimes the neck is clouded by dark-tipped hairs. The face is crossed by a broad band of sooty black, which includes the eyes. The feet, lower parts of the legs, the tip of the tail and the preputial region are sooty-black. The area midway between the front and back legs is marked by a large patch of dark umber-brown, which fades into the buffy surrounding parts. A small spot occurs over each eye, with a narrow band behind the black mask. The sides of the head and the ears are dirty-white in color.

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.