Sable: Facts You Won't Believe!

Amaze yourself with these sable facts.

Sable fur has been a known luxury since the Medieval Age. Sables belong to the Marten family.

These little animals are native to the Russian forest, which expands throughout northern Mongolia and Siberia, in Russia. They are also found in northern Asia, North Korea, Japan, China as well as Kazakhstan. Hunting of this mammal is still prevalent in the Russian regions today. It is said that King Henry VIII passed a declaration that stated that articles of clothing made with sable fur could only be worn by the nobles who were ranked equal to, or higher than, the viscount.

The ‘Mammal Species of the World’ identifies 17 different subspecies of sables. Sables are territorial animals and mark their land with a special bodily scent. They are efficient tree climbers and choose high spots to hide from predators. These little martens are also quite intelligent in finding food - they stalk other larger predators, wait for them to finish their attack and eat the prey, and then would rush over to feed on the remains.

These little ones are always confused with minks - but the two species have different fur textures, are of different heights, and also have varied body colors.

Amazed with these sable facts? You will definitely like reading our pages on the mountain hare and the muskrat.


Fact File

What do they prey on?

Hares, berries, fish, eggs

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1 to 7

How much do they weigh?

1.8-4 lb (0.8-1.8 kg)

How long are they?

17-27 in (43-69 cm)

How tall are they?

6 in (15 cm)

What do they look like?

Light or dark brown, black, white, yellow

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Humans, Foxes, owls, wolves, eagles

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Dense Forests


Asia, Europe





Scientific Name

Martes zibellina





Sable Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Sable?

The sable is a type of Marten.

What class of animal does a Sable belong to?

Sables belong to the Mammalia class.

How many Sables are there in the world?

Unfortunately, there is no exact count on the number of surviving sables in the world today. However, an estimate of about 19,000 individuals of this species was made between the years 1940-1965 native to the Russian lands.

Where does a Sable live?

Dense forests of lowlands and high mountains are where sables live. The sable habitat usually consists of pine, cedar, spruce, birch, and larch trees.

What is a Sable's habitat?

These small mammals dig themselves burrows usually close to riverbanks, which provides them a good supply of water and other vegetation. They also make safe houses by digging burrows among the tree roots. The sable den is well protected and hidden, usually lined with its own fur, moss, lichen, and grass.

Who do Sables live with?

Sables prefer living as lone rangers. They only form groups during the breeding months.

How long does a Sable live?

A sable has a lifespan of up to 18 years in its natural habitat. However, they are known to survive up to 22 years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Breeding seasons usually take place between the months of June to August. There is a lot of competition among the male sables for mating. Shallow grooves are dug in the snow by the male sables, which are usually a meter long. Their pregnancies last for about eight to 10 months. The nests are usually constructed in tree hollows. These nests are made using grass, leaves, lichen, and moss. Up to seven babies can be born in every litter, however usually only two or three are born. The parent male protects the territories and arranges for food.

Little sables are born blind, and they open their eyes only after four or five weeks. When they are about seven weeks old, the babies are weaned. A sable gets sexually matured at the age of two years old.

These mammals are also known to breed with their fellow martens, the pine martens.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the sable stated by IUCN is 'Least Concern'.

Sable Fun Facts

What do Sables look like?

Pine martens are similar to sables, but have smaller bodies.

Sables are mainly known for their fur. Their pelage in the cold season is much longer, softer, and luxurious than their summer fur coat. The color of their fur varies depending on their geographic locations. These colors vary from light chocolatey to dark brown or even black. Some sables have lighter undersides, and the hue slowly gets darker towards their legs and back. Some sables also have yellow, white, or gray fur patches near their throats. Sables found in Japan have brown or black fur near the legs and feet. This fur is absolutely silky, soft, and of rich texture. They have small pointed ears and round faces. Their eyes and noses are black.

How do they communicate?

Sables jump, run, and ‘rumble’ just like common cats during the breeding time.  These small animals are known to mark their territories with a special scent that is produced in their abdominal glands.

How big is a Sable?

The adult male sables have a total body length of about 18.5-27 in (47-69 cm), which includes the lengths of their tails. Their tails are about 3.5-5 in (9-12.7 cm) long. The bodies of the adult female sables are about 14-20 in (36-51 cm) long, and their tails are 2.8-4.5 in (7-11.5 cm) long, making the total body length about 17-24.5 in (43-62.2 cm) long. The bodies of the little cubs are only about 4-4.8 in (10-12.2 cm) long.

A sable is twice the size of a rat.

How fast can a Sable run?

Unfortunately, there is no data recorded on this. However, their small body size helps them gain good speed while running or escaping from predators.

How much does a Sable weigh?

The sables are small mammals. They weigh about 1.8-4 lb (0.8-1.8 kg).  The male sable is considerably heavier than the female.

Baby sables have a bodyweight of only about 0.88-1.25 oz (25-35.5 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no records of individual names for the males and females of the sable species.

What would you call a baby Sable?

Sable babies are called 'cubs'.

What do they eat?

The sable diet varies according to the seasons. Sables are omnivorous animals. Summertime feasts of the sable include wild hares, eggs, rodents, and other small mammals. In the winter days, finding food becomes a little difficult, and they feast on wild plants, wild berries, rodents, and even the small musk deer. They are also known to hunt birds, weasels, and ermines. Finding food becomes difficult in winter, so these intelligent little animals stalk and follow bears and wolves and munch down on the animal remains of their prey. Living near riverbanks, the sable also eats fish by catching them using their front paws. They are also known to munch down on mollusks.

Are they dangerous?

They are not very dangerous, however, they might bite anything that seems to be a threat to them.

Would they make a good pet?

No, sables do not make good pets. Previous attempts have been made to tame these creatures, but sables bite with their sharp teeth.

Did you know...

Sables have an excellent sense of hearing. They hunt mainly with the senses of smell and sound.

The main predators of the sable include tigers, lynxes, wolverines, foxes, and even tigers. As their sizes are small, they also fall prey to large owls, vultures, and eagles.

The fur of sables is considered the most valuable and richly colored coat among all the martens.

The priests of the Byzantine Empire wore this fur for important rituals.

It is said that Genghis Khan’s mother was gifted with a coat made from sable fur on the occasion of his first marriage with Börte Ujin.

What time of day are Sables most active?

The sable is generally a crepuscular species. Most of its activities take place around the time of twilight. However, during the breeding months, the sable can be seen actively hunting and lurking around in the wild in broad daylight.

What animals are related to Sables?

Sables are closely related to the other martens in their family. A close similarity can be observed between the sable and the European marten as well as the pine marten. However, both the martens are smaller than the sable.

Another close relative of the sable is a kidus. Sables have the ability to interbreed with the pine martens. The hybrid baby born is called a kidus. The kidus is almost similar to a sable; however, their bodies are smaller and they possess coarser body fur.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the brown hare and the black-footed ferret.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Sable coloring pages.  



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