Sable, a carnivorous animal of the weasel family, and genus mustela (Linn.), of which the generic characters have been given under Fisher; it is the M. zibellina (Linn.). In size it is about equal to the pine marten (see Marten), and its color in summer is brownish, with white spots on the head and grayish neck; in winter it is much darker, though not so dark as to justify the use of its name as an epithet signifying deep blackness. The feet are hairy to the toes, indicating its residence to be a snow-covered region; it inhabits the frozen mountains of European and Asiatic Russia, where its chase is attended by great hardships on account of the severity of the climate and the barren nature of the country. The dark winter fur is highly esteemed, and forms an important article of commerce to the Russians; considerable numbers are carried to Russia and western Europe, where they bring almost fabulous prices, a single skin being worth from $20 to $60; the hairs are so soft that they will lie any way in which they are placed. It lives principally in trees, lying concealed during the day and hunting by night; it will destroy a hare, though larger than itself, and kills ermines and other small weasels; it may be tamed, and is very docile if taken young.
It is by some regarded as a variety of the pine marten (M. martes, Linn.); but, though not uncommon, enough specimens do not exist in museums to determine the question. It has from three to five young, late in March or early in April. The American sable is the American pine marten (M. Americana).
Sable (Mustela zibellina).