A baby polecat is in our care after being found without his mum in a field in Somerset.
The tiny-young kit is thought to be just a few weeks old and was found alone, hungry and trembling in an exposed spot near our West Hatch Animal Centre near Taunton last Thursday, 6 June.
He had become separated from his mum and was unlikely to survive on his own. Luckily he was spotted by supervisor Anastasia Rosenberg, who lives on site and was walking her dog, and taken to the West Hatch Wildlife Centre next door.
“This poor little thing was really helpless and vulnerable – shaking at the edge of an exposed field.
“We would not normally pick up babies like this, because the mothers are often nearby and it can be better to leave them where they are. But in this case he had clearly been separated from his mum, was very anxious and was in danger because of a dog which was living nearby.
“Polecats are quite rare in this area so it took me by surprise to find him and I thought he might be a ferret until I looked closely.
“Of all the places he could have got himself lost, it is pretty amazing that this little fella managed to find his way almost to the doorstep to a wildlife centre – it is as if he came asking for help.”
The number of polecats are now gradually increasing
The baby polecat is uninjured but needs constant feeding and care until he is old enough to fend for himself. It is hoped that after a period of hand-rearing he can be released back to the field where he was found.
A study based at one of our other wildlife centres, Stapeley Grange, monitored how well hand reared polecats like this one survived when released back into the wild. It found they were able to fend for themselves despite their time in captivity. Polecats were driven to the brink of extinction in the UK by the early 20th century because so many were killed by gamekeepers, but numbers are now gradually increasing again due to reduced persecution.
Manager of West Hatch Wildlife Centre Peter Venn said:
“The polecat kit is doing well but is so small he needs our help for a while – so we can get him big and strong enough to get out there and live his life back in the wild.
“Considering how rare these lovely little animals were not so long ago it is especially important that we do all that we can to help them survive – for conservation reasons as well as welfare.”
We can’t do it without you
We can only rescue and rehabilitate animals like this with your help. Please donate online or text HELP to78866 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).