zorilla, small, carnivorous, nocturnal mammal, Ictonyx striatus, of the weasel family, found in dry regions of Africa. It is also called striped weasel and striped polecat. Although it strongly resembles the North American skunk, a member of the same family, it is more closely related to the true polecat of Eurasia. The zorilla has thick fur with black and white markings, and a long, bushy tail. Its anal glands secrete a pungent fluid that can be ejected as a defense against predators. It is avoided by other animals. It lives in rocky crevices and hunts by night, feeding on small reptiles and rodents. Other African members of the weasel family, also called striped weasels, are more weasellike in appearance, with long, slender bodies. Zorillas are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Mustelidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology