Zorillas have an uncanny resemblance to skunks, although they are more closely related to ferrets and polecats. Their alternative name is the striped polecat. Not only do they share black and white markings with their North American relatives, but they also eject a foulsmelling liquid from glands near their anuses if alarmed. When faced with enemies, zorillas puff up their fur in an attempt to look bigger, and then squirt their noxious liquid towards their assailants. If the liquid gets in a predator's eyes, it causes intense irritation, as well as smelling very unpleasant. This strategy is extremely effective, with few predators prepared to risk the stinking spray.

With their bold black and white markings, zorillas are easily mistaken for skunks.

Zorillas are nocturnal animals, resting i during the day in burrows or rock crevices. At night they hunt small animals, as well as eating the eggs of ground-nesting birds, which are a particular favourite. Zorillas are predominantly ground-living, but they are also proficient swimmers and climbers.

Distribution: Sudan to South Africa.

Habitat: A wide variety, including temperate forest, tropical forest, savannah and grasslands.

Food: Rodents, large insects, eggs, snakes, birds, frogs and reptiles.

Size: 33 - 38 cm (13 - 15 in); 1 kg (2.25 lb).

Maturity: 1 year.

Breeding: 1 litter of 1 - 3 young born each year.

Life span: 13 years.

Status: Common.