When polecat mother 'Moonshadow' gave birth to 10 tiny pole pups earlier this month, keepers at the UK's Shepreth WIldlife Park were astonished. The European polecat is the ancestor of the domesticated ferret. In the wild, polecat moms usually have just four to six young per litter. The bountiful birth, part of a captive breeding program, is great news for conservation efforts too. All ten will be released back into the wild in the fall. Polecats were hunted to near-extinction in England during the 19th century. While the animals are good at hunting rats and rabbits, which are usually seen as pests by farmers, they were ruthlessly culled to protect game bird estates.