Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Ermine (Mustela erminea), a small vermiform carnivorous mammal allied to the weasel (q.v.), from which it chiefly differs in its coloration and its greater size. It is generally distributed in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and occurs in the southern parts of Britain, and in this country it is called the stoat. In summer the upper parts vary from yellowish to mahogany brown, and the under parts are white tinged with sulphur yellow, while the throat is pure white. The general hue of the winter dress is white, with tinges of sulphur yellow. The tail is always tipped with black. The total change only occurs in higher latitudes, whence the ermine fur, used chiefly for trimming state robes, is imported. The ermine 'feeds principally on rats, water-voles, and rabbits, but does not disdain birds, and sometimes it invades the poultry-yard.