Journal of Ethology

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 95–104 | Cite as

Development of survival skills in captive-raised Siberian polecats (Mustela eversmanni) II: Predator avoidance

  • Brian Miller
  • Dean Biggins
  • Chris Wemmer
  • Roger Powell
  • Lorena Calvo
  • Lou Hanebury
  • Tracy Wharton


We exposed naive Siberain polecats (Mustela eversmanni) (aged 2, 3, and 4 months) to a swooping stuffed great horned owl (Buho virginianus) and a stuffed badger (Taxidae taxus) mounted on a remote control toy automobile frame. The first introduction to each was harmless, the second was accompanied by a mild aversive stimulus, the third (1 day after attack) was harmless, and the fourth (30 days after attack) was harmless. Alert behavior increased after a single attack by either predator model. Escape responses of naive polecats did not differ between ages when exposed to the badger, but 4 month old polecats reduced their escape times after a single badger attack. When exposed to the swooping owl, naive 4 month old polecats redponded more quickly than the other two age groups, and 3 and 4 month old polecats reduced escape times after a single owl attack. This indicates an innate escape response to the owl model at 4 months of age, and a short-tert ability to remember a single mild aversive encounter with the badger and owl models at 3 or 4 months of age.


Remote Control Taxus Animal Ecology Aversive Stimulus Escape Response 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Miller
    • 1
  • Dean Biggins
    • 2
  • Chris Wemmer
    • 1
  • Roger Powell
    • 3
  • Lorena Calvo
    • 4
  • Lou Hanebury
    • 2
  • Tracy Wharton
  1. 1.Conservation and Research Center of the National Zoological ParkSmithsonian InstitutionFront Royal
  2. 2.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Ecology CenterFort Collins
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleigh
  4. 4.La Aurora ZooGuatemala City, Guatemala

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