Ictonyx libycus

Ictonyx libycus (Hemprich and Ehrenberg, 1833)

Common Names

Saharan Striped Polecat (English), العرسة الليبية (Arabic), أبو منتن (Arabic), Saharan Striped Weasel (English), عرسة الصحراء المخططة (Arabic)

Languages: English



The Saharan striped polecat is a small and long haired weasel. It has distinctive coloration with longitudinal alternating black and white lines. Limbs short and tail longer than half of the body length. Ears and snout short. On the head between eyes and ears white spot. Three broad black lines extending along the body starting behind the ears, the central one dividing into 2-3 additional small lines middorsally and all joining together at the end of the body.


Status in Egypt

Native, resident.



Nocturnal species, spending day underground in holes it digs with very strong elaborate claws. Saharan striped polecat feeds on small mammals (desert rodents, especially jerboa), ground-nesting birds, reptiles, insects and near houses it feed on domesticated birds, killing them by making a hole in the back of the skull. Forage solitarily. Saharan striped polecat probably territorial species and may play dead to avoid being attacked. The breeding season of the Saharan striped polecat is known to be from January to March and female gives birth of one to three naked young after a gestation period of not less than 37 days.


Length: 23-28 cm. Weight: 200 gm.

Ecology and Distribution

Distribution in Egypt

Narrow (mainly Mediterranean coast).


The Saharan striped polecat inhabits in sandy or stony desert and cultivated land.


  • Mustela libyca Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833 (synonym)
  • Poecilictis libyca (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833) (synonym)
  • Ictonyx libyca (Hemprich and Ehrenberg, 1833) (synonym)


I., Helmy., & D. Osborn. (1980).  The Contemporary Land Mammals of Egypt (including Sinai) Field Museum of Natural History, no. 5, Cairo..
M., Basuony., F. Gilbert., & S. Zalat. (2010).  Mammals of Egypt: Atlas, Red Data Listing & Conservation, Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, Cairo..
R., Hoath. (2003).  A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt, The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo..