Fur animals at a glance
Fur, fine, soft, hairy covering or coat of mammals that has been important to humankind throughout history, chiefly for warmth but also for decorative and other purposes.
The pelts of fur-bearing animals are called true furs when they consist of two elements: a dense undercoat, called ground hair, and longer hairs, extending beyond that layer, called guard hair. The principal function of ground hair is to maintain the animal’s body temperature; that of guard hair is to protect the underlying fur and skin and to shed rain or snow. Pelts that lack either element are not true furs, although they are still used commercially as furs. Persian lamb, for example, has no guard hair, while kid and pony possess no ground hair.
Furs have been used principally to fashion outer garments; this is also true for the modern fur industry. A variety of animals are bred or trapped for their pelts, including those that bear the luxury furs (sable, chinchilla, ermine, and mink) and others whose fur is of lesser value (such as rabbit and squirrel). Other commercially important furs include the various species of fox and lamb; beaver, marten, raccoon, skunk, otter, and seal; as well as leopard, lynx, ocelot, and wolf.
Currently, mink, fox, etc are the mostly used fur animals.