Dick's Mustelid Mixture

by Dick Nutt

There are no weasels in Ireland (Maybe St Patrick drove them out along with the snakes!) but there are stoats. However....... The Irish stoat is, on average, somewhat smaller than its British counterpart and, unlike the British stoat, has an irregular black line on its underbelly, as does our weasel.

The Irish stoat is also found on the Isles of Man, Islay and Jura. Now, just to make matter really Irish, stoats in Ireland are always known as weasels!

I trust this clarifies the situation.

* * * * *

There is a traditional folk-belief in Wales that if a weasel (a proper one this time) runs before you without turning back, then you will win something.

There is no truth in the rumour that our ex-President was seen following a weasel up Cader Idris, and waving a Lottery ticket at it.

* * * * *

The family Mustelidae, world wide, consists of 23 Genii, divided into 67 species.

That is if, at time of going to press, the captive breeding program for the American Black Footed Ferret, (Mustela Negripes), that is going on in Wyoming, is successful.

* * * * *

Speaking of the USA, it is known they tend to like to have the biggest this or the best that.

In 1980 about 12,000 ferrets were sold in the States, about half this number for research and the rest as pets.

By 1986 the figure for the pet industry had risen to 30,000 and the latest figure I can find (1988) talks of 400,000 ferret keepers with 1,000,000 pet ferrets. In 1994 the ferret was the third most popular pet in the States.

Is there anyone out there with up to date figures?

* * * * *

In a paper on Mammalian Hybrids, referring to a study carried out in 1954 by the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, it is categorically stated that the female ferret and the male stoat will produce fertile hybrids.

I have heard this over the years, prior to seeing this reference, but it was usually put down to a "gypsy story".

However, when the so-called Cornish Blue ferret became very popular some time ago, over a few beers a certain well known ferreting character let something slip to me.

It was not until a while after this I saw a photo and description, in the Canadian Fur Breeders Handbook, of a Blue Mink, specially bred as a rare colour variety and identical to the Cornish Blue.

Does this mean that ferret and mink are capable of producing fertile hybrids or is it all coincidence?

If anyone out there knows........

* * * * *

A very eager pine marten hob and a highly receptive jill were standing at the foot of a tall Scots Pine.

"Darling," he said to her, "you are about to join the two hundred foot high club!"

(First published in N.F.W.S. Newsletter May 1996, Issue No 37)

Photo Call
Some of Dick's ferrets

There's nobody home, guv! 8Kb Where are they? 11Kb Now... Where was that rabbit hole 5Kb What do I have to do? 9Kb I'll be with you in just a second! 17Kb First outing! 7Kb

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