Coward – Putor putor putor
All mammals have scent glands. They are located in different places of the body. Many species orientate themselves primarily by smell and use the secretions from these glands as a means of communication. They leave it on the stones, on the ground, on tree trunks and branches, thus defining the area of their existence. If any intruder goes beyond that boundary, puts himself at risk of attack. The scent glands also play an important role during the mating season, in pairing or even more as a defensive measure, deterring any aggressor. It's a defense device, resulting from secondary evolution, it is very significant in a coward. He uses his anal glands to scare the opponent away. After being chased by a dog or a fox, it sprinkles its surroundings with foul mucus, which allows him to avoid the fangs of his pursuers almost immediately. The coward lives in the plains and in the mountains, in the fields and in the woods, and often near human settlements. He likes the proximity of water. It occurs in large parts of Europe. In the east, the border of its occurrence is the Volga, The Don and the Urals. It is not present in Ireland, in the north of Scandinavia, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea and in the south of the Balkans. In Africa, it can be found in the northwest of Morocco.
Coward feeds on reptiles, frogs and insects and small vertebrates, often attacks small game. That's why, but also for a beautiful fur, it is shot or trapped in some countries. Only firearms are allowed to hunt in Poland.
About the presence of a coward (1) five-finger prints of his paws and droppings testify (6—8 cm in length and 12 mm of thickness) twisted into a rope (3). The forepaw footprint has dimensions 2 on 3,5 cm, rear - 4 on 4,5 cm (4).
Steppe coward (Putorius eversmanni) (2) it has black and yellowish fur. It slowly progresses west of the wooded steppes of south-eastern Europe it inhabits. It is a species found mainly in the fields.
Both species reproduce in the same way. The mating season is from March to April, but sometimes it extends to June.
The female, after 40-43 days of pregnancy, gives birth to cubs between April and August in an underground hideout. The litter consists of 4-9 young, which begin to see after 28-36 days. Young cowards become adult and reproductive after nine months. Both of these species reproduce in the same way.