Activity Pattern of Polecats Mustela putorius L. in Relation to Food Habits and Prey Activity


La Vadellerie, F-49123 Champtocé/Loire, France.


The activity pattern of polecats Mustela putorius L. was studied by radiotracking five males and four females in the wetlands of western France from Jul. 1988 to Mar. 1992. Polecats were nocturnal throughout the year with no differences between males and females. The diel activity remained moderate (31 %). Seasonal food habits were characterized by the exploitation of anurans in spring, while rodents were preyed upon from summer to winter. Seasonal changes in the activity rhythm of polecats appeared synchronized with the activity of the main prey. It is suggested that the activity patterns exhibited in different periods of the year are a result of changes in feeding tactics.