Abstract: Steppe polecat (Mustela eversmanni Lesson, 1827) is the dominant species of mustelids in the alpine meadow ecosystem of the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibetan) plateau in China. Using the live and dead rats as the experimental prey, researchers investigated the effects of prey body masses, numbers and activities on predatory behaviors of the polecat. The results revealed that the prey activity was the most important factor that affected prey selection of the polecat during searching phase. The searching time used for live prey by polecat was significantly longer than that used for dead prey. Also, the prey numbers and body masses significantly affected prey selection of the polecat. When the activities of prey were the same, the polecat always preferred the group with more prey than the one with less prey. When the number and activity of prey were the same, the searching duration was significantly decreased from the lowest weight class to the highest one. In addition, the foraging profitability of polecat is prey dependent which was higher with smaller prey than with larger ones. These results indicated that the polecat could adjust the hunting behaviors to achieve the optimal profitability according to the characteristics of prey.
Shiping Li, Baofa Yin, Xin Dai, Fengping Yang, Shengmei Yang, Wanhong Wei, Naichang Fan and Wenyang Zhou, 2012. Prey Selection and Hunting Behaviors of Steppe Polecat Mustela eversmanni in Laboratory Studies. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances, 11: 1-8.