Sable Marten (Martes zibellina) - Wiki
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[Photo] Sable (Martes zibellina). Painted by Tynt22 and released into the public domain.
The Sable (Martes zibellina) is a small mammal, closely akin to the marten, living in southern Russia near the Ural Mountains through Siberia and Mongolia to Hokkaid?? in Japan. Its range in the wild originally extended through European Russia to Poland and Scandinavia. It has achieved fame for its fur, which is integrated into various clothes fashions (for example the shtreimel). Sables range in color from tan to black, black being the most prized. The top grade of black sable fur is called "black diamond".
Sables are diurnal predators, using their sense of smell and hearing to hunt for small prey. They have been observed to hide in their dens for days during periods such as snow storms, or when they are being hunted by humans. In the wild they are potentially vicious; although there are "domesticated" sables who have been described as playful, curious, and even "tame" (if taken from their mother at a young age). They are mostly terrestrial, hunting and constructing dens on the forest floor. They feed on chipmunks, squirrels, mice, small birds and fish. When primary sources are scarce they eat berries, vegetation, and pine nuts. When weather conditions are extreme they will store their prey in their den.
The name sable appears to be Slavonic in origin: compare Russian sobol, whence various languages have adapted the term: German Zobel, Dutch Sabel; the French zibelline Spanish cibelina, cebellina, Finnish soopeli and Mediaeval Latin zibellina derive from the Italian form. The English and Mediaeval Latin word sabellum comes from the Old French sable or saible.
Sable hair is highly prized by the fur trade. The so-called Kolinsky sable-hair brushes used for watercolor or oil painting are not however manufactured from sable hair, but that of the siberian weasel.
The term has become a generic description for some black-furred animal breeds, such as sable cats or rabbits.
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