5 MARCH 1932, Page 13


The change of coat from brown to white to fit the alleged snows of winter seems, on investigation, to be more common in the South of England than many of us have supposed. I made some reference lately to the occurrence of white stoats in a particular district of Surrey. On this theme the curator of an interesting museum in Aylesbury calls my attention to a series of five white stoats all.taken in the neighbourhood of the town during the last few years. Two of these are com- pletely white, except for a brown rim round the eyes. The curator has himself seen two white stoats in the wild, one in Surrey, one in Devon. It is curious that all the five and one other to which reference is made were female stoats. May it be that in mammals, as in birds, protective coloration is a dis- tinguishing mark of the female ? The white, of course, only protects when snow is present ; but the change is thought to have been evolved because it saved the life of those who experienced it.