Bulgarian Polecats - A New Look

Friday evening and we were sitting outside on the Skalitsa Farmhouse terrace listening to the complete silence that surrounded us in the dark. Then there was a little clutter in one of the outbuilding as we assumed that a cat was just making life difficult for the mice. The clutter sounded again out of the silence making it such an obvious noise. this sound it had moved 10 metres in further down the the big farm building nearer to were we were relaxing.

I knew it wasn't a cat but didn't want to get Galia stressed as she continued to turn her head towards the sound.

When I first came here any noise scared me, the reason for this was that I just didn't know what was causing the noise. Now I am much wiser and most sounds are accounted for in the country. This sound was the sound of a polecat, the European polecat. A common resident in these parts and the reason for many sleepless nights from the past.

I have caught a few in traps and killed them before, as they have stolen eggs from my chickens and killed chicks but that was in the past. I now know we have to live with them and apart from a few eggs and chicks due to my lack of experience not securing their environment properly. And a bit of noise, that now is no trouble as I know what it is; they have as much right to live here as we do.

This evening I knew the pole cat was about as we waited for the silence to be broken once again. To calm Galia I turned another light on outside the rear of the garage/outbuilding. There are roof tiles placed leaning along the base of the outside wall and little be known to us there was a surprise waiting for us.

Once again a little clutter by the garage now and as we turned to look, we saw a little head, not to dissimilar to a kitten's head poke out from one of the roof tiles. We just froze looking at this pole cat who did the same thing to us. There was some meat on the table we were sitting on and a piece was broken of and thrown toward the animal. The polecat didn't budge as the meat bounced its way towards it. We threw another meat morsel, which landed closer and the polecat walked towards it. It was now in full view and although I have seen these close up dead in my hands it isn't the same seeing it move gracefully with its streamlined body covered in dark brown silky fur with highlighted tints and a long bushy, rather untidy tail. This beautiful animal sniffed and took the meat in its mouth. and walked slowly back to its little roof tile hideout. We were quite amazed how bold this polecat was as we threw even more meat pieces toward it.

After a short while the polecat retreated and we didn't see it for the rest of the evening although we would have loved to. The subject of pole cats was now raised and Galia I found wasn't stressed as she sees these on a daily basis in the factory in Yambol where she works. She went to on to say that they were looked upon as good luck by the workers there and they shouldn't be hunted trapped or killed as it would bring bad luck. The Bulgarians view is that they should live as neighbours here both in town and country, they do more good than harm by keeping the mice population down and the price of a few eggs as reward is a small fee for their services. Besides that, they are handsome animals.

So, if you are disturbed in your house by scampering feet above or below your house, you know what it is a European pole cat. Don't put the traps out and waste your time looking to kill them, try and live with these beautiful creatures. I now regret trapping and killing these polecats before now and come to think of it I did get lots of bad luck after the event!