Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The gorgeous Sable (Sobol), or Zibelin, from around Baikal, Siberia

A Barguzin sable

The Sable (Martes zibellina) is a species which inhabits dense taïga forest areas, primarily in Russia from the Ural Mountains throughout Siberia.

Sables build burrows disguised among the roots of cedar, larch, pine, spruce or birch trees, and in lowlands they build the burrows by the riverbanks. They birth in tree hollows, where they build nests using moss, leaves, and dried grass.

Fallen hollow logs, empty tree stumps, brushwood piles and exposed tree roots are sable's favorite dwelling.

The name sable appears to be of Slavic origin and to have entered most Western European languages via the early medieval fur trade. Thus the Russian соболь (sobol) became Mediaeval Latin zibellina and French zibeline.

Dark brown fur, except for the ears and an orange patch under the chin.

Sables are fast and agile, they jump nimbly between trees and avoid direct sunlight. They are primarily crepuscular, hunting during the hours of twilight.

Their winter fur is thicker and longer.

Sables have been historically hunted for their highly valued silky fur. At least since the 9th century, swedish Vikings traded skins around Lake Ladoga with siberian hunters. 

Sable furs first arrived in western Europe through the norse old town of Birka, on the trading route from the East through the Baltic sea.

Their habitat extends northward to the treeline (limit of trees), and southward to 55–60° latitude in western Siberia, and 42° in the mountainous areas of eastern Asia.

Their western distribution encompasses the Ural mountains, where they share pine forest territory with European martens.

The Barguzin Reserve

The most beautiful and famous of all, the queen sable, is the darker brown/grey sable from Barguzin, the pine forested area around Barguzin river and its mouth at the east shore of Lake Baikal. The 'Barguzin reserve' was the first National Park in Russia.

Note: 'Sable painting brushes' are really not from sable, but from a close cousin, the siberian Kolonok.