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ferret, name for a domesticated polecat, Mustela putorius, common in the Old World. It has been used for centuries to hunt rats, mice, and rabbits. Domestic ferrets are found in many color types including albinos, brown, and black. The name is also applied to a related wild species, the North American, or black-footed, ferret, M. nigripes, which inhabits the Great Plains. Once extremely rare, its population is recovering due to captive breeding. Its range nearly coincides with that of the prairie dogs, which constitute most of its diet; it is often found in prairie dog burrows. The severe reduction of the prairie dog population by ranchers is probably partially responsible for the decline of the black-footed ferret, although it was apparently not numerous when the West was first settled by Europeans. Near extinction in the early 1980s, the remaining wild population was captured by 1986 and a successful breeding program begun. Animals were reintroduced into the wild beginning in 1991. Ferrets are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Mustelidae (weasel family).
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An aircraft, ship, or vehicle especially equipped for the detection, location, recording, and analyzing of electromagnetic radiation.
Mustela nigripes. The largest member of the weasel family, Mustelidae, and a relative of the European polecat; has yellowish fur with black feet, tail, and mask.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Aircraft used in an ELINT (electronic intelligence) role and equipped with devices for detecting, locating, recording, and analyzing hostile electromagnetic radiation.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
1. a domesticated albino variety of the polecat Mustela putorius, bred for hunting rats, rabbits, etc.
2. black-footed ferret a musteline mammal, Mustela nigripes, of W North America, closely related to the weasels
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Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005