KHONORIK. HYBRIDS BETWEEN MUSTELIDAE
In 1976-1979 a well-known Russian zoologist Dr. Dmitry Ternovsky from Novosibirsk worked about hybridization of different species of Mustelidae family: furo (Mustela putorius forma furo), wild polecat (Mustela putorius), steppe polecat (Mustela eversmanni), European mink (Mustela (Lutreola) lutreola), Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica) and others.
At the result he bred hybrids of furo and steppe polecat (named "khofuter": "kho-" from "horjok" which means "ferret" and "polecat" in Russian + "-fu-" - furo + "-ter" - from Ternovsky), furo and European mink (named "funoter": "fu-"=furo + "-no-"="norka"=mink in Russian + "-ter"), Siberian weasel and steppe polecat ("kohhosik": "ko-"="kolonok"=Siberian weasel = "-ho-"="horjok") and many others.
But the most famous hybrid was the hybrid of polecat and European mink, named "khonorik". Khonorik was bred in 1978, its parents were a hybrid male of polecat (wild x steppe) and a female of European mink and thus it was a hybrid of three species. Later on khonoriks were bred from thoroughbred wild polecat and European mink.
Khonorik looks like a mink and a little like a dark sable: black guard hairs, brown undercoat. The ears are significantly larger than those of a mink and are edged by a light strip, like the ears of a polecat. Adult khonoriks are bigger than their parents. They can swim very well like minks and burrow food like polecats. Their temperament is very aggressive and they can hardly be domesticated. Male khonoriks have hybrid sterility whereas females are fertile.
Khonoriks caused a sensation in different exhibitions in many countries, were repeatedly awarded in shows in USSR and popularized by mass media because of their unusual fur, more qualitative than that of minks. They were breeding khonoriks in the experimental biological stations and in some fitch farms during some years. But because the breeding of these animals was very difficult and the population of European mink has decreased, it turned out that the breeding was inexpedient and so it was stopped.
The word "khonorik" sounds more attractive and euphonic in the Russian language than the word "horjok" (i.e. ferret) does, therefore some ferret vendors say: "my animals are not ferrets, but khonoriks, a cross between a ferret and a mink" even now. In addition some journalists show their ignorance and write about ferrets as about khonoriks.