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Zorilla


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The Zorilla, Ictonyx striatus, is a skunk-like mammal that lives in African savannas. It is also called the striped polecat. This mustelid (a type of weasel) has scent glands under the tail; when it is alarmed, it sprays a strong-smelling liquid. These nocturnal animals hunt at night and rest in a burrow or a rock crevice during the day. Zorillas are fine swimmers but rarely climb trees. They have a life span of 5 years in captivity.

Anatomy: Zorillas have long, thick black fur with white stripes. These mammals are about 13 to 15 inches (33-38 cm) long plus a whitish, bushy tail that is 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) long; they weigh 2 to 3 pounds (1 kg). The snout is long, the legs are short, and the feet have long, sturdy claws.

Diet: Zorillas are carnivores (meat-eaters). They eat insects, amphibians, reptiles, rodents, birds, and eggs. Zorillas hunt for some of their prey in the soil; they root around in the earth using long claws.

Predators: Zorillas are preyed upon by few animals. Most predators, like lions, are repulsed by the zorilla's foul-smelling spray.

Reproduction: Females give birth in a burrow, bearing two to three young after a five-week pregnancy.

Classification: Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Carnivora, Family Mustelidae (weasels, ferrets, minks, skunks, otters, badgers), Genus Ictonyx, Species I. striatus.

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