|Polecat, Mustela putorius, Kit|
Mags has had a litter of eight kits this year. She has got her work cut out, but is a great mum. This is her third litter, and she has really done well on learning from her previous two.
Mags is currently in the double polecat pen opposite our main polecat enclosure, along with her kits. The kits are at that age now where they are confident on their feet, and exploring their surroundings. Mum keeps trying to take them back to the nest, but soon gives up and leaves them to it knowing that they are safe.
|Peeking from Den|
It really is like a "Whack a Mole" fair ground game watching them... you never know which hole they are going to pop out of next, and similar to the stoats it is often best to just be patient and wait by one of them until inevitably one of them has a look out.
All these photographs are taken from outside the enclosure, and in the evening. Mags is very protective of her babies, as you can imagine, and if I tried to sneak in she would soon come over and ask me in her own way (biting!!!) to leave.
|Mags and Three Kits|
Cassisus, the father, is currently off-display. With our main pair, and pairs we have had in the past, we have always left the male in with the female and never had any trouble.
With Mags and Cassius, we always separate Cassisus out while Mags has young. He has never shown an interest or threat in the youngster, but Mags starts to bully him a little to keep him away. So to save him from all the nagging, we think it best to give him a bit of rest from her.
This years kits have already been a great attraction for many of our visitors. Being in our weasel pen, it means there is the lower viewing angle through the glass too which allows children to see them up close.
We will keep them here for the summer holidays, and then in the autumn they will join up with other polecats bred this year to be released in to the wild.
|All Eight plus Mum|
The other night I spent half an hour with them. At one point mum and all eight kits were out and together, I was cursing having my longer lens on so changed to a wide angle and tried to get all nine in one photo. Needless to say, they didn't all group up together again... but if you look very closely mum and all eight kits are int he photo above!
Mags really is doing a great job, and you can see that the kits are about half her size already. It won't be long until they have outgrown her... she is quite small for a female herself.
The kits are playing around, good exercise for them, but also learning skills that they will need in the future when they are eventually out in the wild, and having to fend for themselves.
The kits are active on and off throughout the day, no best time to see them really, but I would suggest the afternoon if you are just wanting to come for half a day and particularly wanting to see the polecat kits.
Thanks for looking