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Stoat

Stoat
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Mustela[?]
Species: erminea
Binomial name
Mustela erminea

The stoat (Mustela erminea) is a small mammal of the family Mustelidae.

It is a carnivore, and grows up to 30 cm long. It can be found throughout Canada, the western United States, Europe, and Asia.

It is a member of the weasel family. Its coat is chocolate brown with a black tip on the tail in summer. It is often referred to as an ermine and in winter, the colour changes to white, with the black tail tip.

The skins were prized by the fur trade and used to trim coats and stoles.

In heraldry, the term "ermine" is used to mean a white field strewn with small bell-shaped designs called ermine-spots. This represented a white ermine pelt decorated with black hairs from the tail tip. Variants included "ermines" or "counter ermine" (white spots on black), "erminois" (black spots on gold), and "pean" (gold spots on black).



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