Posts Tagged ‘Kolonok’

This mustelid is a Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica). Its range includes a huge chunk of Eurasia, and it is called the Siberian weasel because Westerners knew the species from Russian specimens. However, its vast range goes from European Russia all the way to Taiwan.

Its fur is marketed as “kolinsky sable,” and if you buy a brush that is said to come from a kolinsky sable, you are actually purchasing a brush tipped in the winter fur of this animal. In Russian, the animal’s name is “kolonok,” but it is easier for us to say Siberian weasel, even if its range is much more extensive than Siberia.

Although it looks very similar to the steppe polecat, it is not the same thing.  The two species share a range, but the steppe polecat is darker. The Siberian weasel is always this apricot color.

It’s a very attractive color for a weasel, and it sort of reminds me of some races of the long-tailed weasel. In the Southwestern US, the long-tailed weasels are masked. In my area, the local variant of the long-tailed weasel is unmasked, and it turns white in the winter.

When I saw a video of the Siberian weasel, I was much more reminded of the long-tailed weasel than any species of ferret or polecat. Here’s a playful Siberian weasel versus a pet ferret:


These animals are widely bred on fur farms, so my guess is that they are probably not far from being available on the pet market. I doubt that they are as domesticated as ferrets are.

However, the movement is so similar to the long-tailed weasel that I can’t help but be intrigued by this species.


Of course, I am a bit biased here, for my the weasel family has always fascinated me. They are as intelligent as dogs and cats, yet most of them are quite tiny in comparison.

Indeed, they have so fascinated me that I have the body of a long-tailed weasel in my freezer. It was shot in late October– just when its fur was turning from brown to white. I wanted to have it taxidermied, but I never got around to it.


The Chinese have the coolest name for the Siberian weasel.

It is huang shu lang, which means “yellow rat wolf.”

What a name!

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