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name for a number of northern species of weaselweasel,
name for certain small, lithe, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae (weasel family). Members of this family are generally characterized by long bodies and necks, short legs, small rounded ears, and medium to long tails.
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 having white coats in winter, and highly prized for their white fur. It most commonly refers to the white phase of Mustela erminea, called short-tailed weasel in North America and stoat in the Old World. The white pelts are made into wraps, coats, and trimmings. The black-tipped tails are used in the United States as ornament, and in Europe they were used with the ermine of royal robes.



(Mustela erminea), a valuable fur-bearing animal of the family Mustelidae. In summer the fur is rusty brown and in winter, snow-white; the tip of the tail is black year-round. The male’s body is about 25 cm long (the female’s is somewhat shorter), and the tail reaches 10 cm.

The ermine is widely distributed in Europe, Asia, and North America; it is found in almost the entire territory of the USSR, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to approximately the deserts of Middle Asia. The animal lives most often in river valleys, near lakes or reed thickets, but it is also found in forests, coppices, mines, and fields. Sometimes the ermine settles near human dwellings. It is extremely mobile: it swims and climbs trees. Its prey is usually murine rodents and small birds. Sometimes it attacks larger animals, such as the caper-caillie or rabbit.

The ermine mates during the second half of the summer, but the embryo begins to form at the end of the winter; the young are born in the spring. Ermines usually produce five to eight offspring (sometimes more). They are born blind and almost bare; their eyes open within approximately 30 days; by the end of the summer the young reach sexual maturity. In years when there are few rodents, the number of ermines decrease. They are useful in eradicating murine rodents. Ermines are hunted (their fur is used for decoration).


Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2, part 1. Edited by V. G. Geptner and N. P. Naumov. Moscow, 1967.


fur which represents nobility. [Heraldry: Halberts, 13]
See: Dignity


winter stoat; said to die if whiteness is soiled. [Art: Hall, 115]


1. the stoat in northern regions, where it has a white winter coat with a black-tipped tail
2. the fur of this animal
3. the dignity or office of a judge, noble, or king
References in periodicals archive ?
Early that summer, pupae of apple ermine moths harboring wasp larvae were rounded up in Shanxi Province, China.
WARWICKSHIRE Wildlife Trust reserve manager Ian Jelley reckons the web-spinning creature could be the caterpillar of the birdcherry ermine moth (yponomeuta evonymella).
Earlier, female wasps had laid their aggs inside ermine moth eggs.
The bird-cherry ermine moth has several rows of black dots on its forewing, and a wingspan of 16-25 mm.
There are eight species of ermine moth and not much is known about them except they are partial to bird cherry trees, blackthorn and hawthorn bushes in particular.
ERMINE moths are a group of several hundred similar species which mainly live in the tropics.
NO: The tree covered in the web-like weavings of ermine moth caterpillars, seen in close-up inset above left Pictures by LEWIS POTTER FASCINATED: Sarah Seaman and son Stephen Jones, nine, above Picture by PETER REIMANN
SPOOKY Trees turned white after an infestation of thousands of Bird-Cherry Ermine Moth caterpillars covered them in an silky web
Forest Research Institute 1969) are known hosts of apple ermine moth.
Yponomeuta Padella, or ermine moth caterpillars weave an intricate web over a roadside hawthorn hedge and speed sign in Catherington near Portsmouth yesterday.
English Nature's Dr Davis Sheppard said the caterpillars were ermine moth larvae which hatched from eggs laid last year.