Ferret

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This article is about the mammal. For other uses of the term, see Ferret (disambiguation).
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How to read a taxobox
Domestic Ferret
A domestic ferret resting momentarily.
A domestic ferret resting momentarily.
Conservation status
Domesticated
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Mustela
Species: M. putorius
Subspecies: M. p. furo
Trinomial name
Mustela putorius furo
(Linnaeus, 1758)

In general use, a ferret is a domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Several other small, elongated carnivorous mammals belonging to the family Mustelidae also have the word "ferret" in their common names, including the endangered black-footed ferret, but in common use, a "ferret" is a domesticated ferret.

Contents

[edit] History

It is unknown exactly when ferrets were first domesticated, but ferret remains have been dated to 1500 BC.[1]

Some say the ancient Egyptians had ferrets, but it is more likely that Europeans visiting Egypt saw cats and thought using a small carnivore to protect grain stores was a useful idea.[citation needed] The ancient Greeks kept pet ferrets: they are mentioned by Aristophanes.[citation needed]

The ferret was most likely bred from the European Polecat (Mustela putorius), though it is also possible that ferrets come from the Steppe polecat (Mustela eversmannii) or some hybridization thereof.

Wild ferrets, in the form of ferret-polecat hybrids, do still exist. New Zealand has the world's largest feral population of these hybrids.[2] (See Ferrets as pests, below, for more details.)

The 1st Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment keeps two ferrets, Imphal and Quebec, as its unofficial mascots in the British Armed Forces, named after the battalion's battle honours.[3]

[edit] Ferreting

For hundreds of years, the main use of ferrets was for hunting, or ferreting. With their long, lean build and curious nature, ferrets are very well equipped for getting down holes and chasing rodents and rabbits ("rabbiting") out of their burrows. They are still used for hunting in some countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, where rabbits are considered a plague species and the combination of a few small nets and a ferret or two remains very effective despite technological advances. However, the practice is illegal in several countries, where it is feared that ferreting could unbalance the ecology.

Caesar Augustus sent ferrets (named "viverrae" by Plinius) to the Balearic Islands to control the rabbit plagues in 6 BC.

Ferrets were first brought to the New World in the 17th century and were used extensively from 1860 until the start of World War II to protect grain stores in the American West. They first became popular as pets in the mid-1970s, chiefly thanks to Dr. Wendy Winstead, a veterinarian and former folk singer who sold ferrets to a number of celebrities and made many TV appearances with her own ferrets.

[edit] Ferrets as pets

Ferrets sleeping in a pile
Ferrets sleeping in a pile

Ferrets are energetic, curious, and always interested in their surroundings. They actively elicit play with their owners.

Ferrets tend to be very nippy as kits, requiring patience and persistence in handling. Nipping is the act of biting in a playful manner reminiscent of mock fighting and sparring; young ferrets are also more prone to chewing and teething. Older ferrets tend to chew far less frequently and when trained correctly, almost never nip a human hand. Younger inexperienced ferrets have a tendency to nip and bite harder, which may irritate an owner who does not understand ferret behavior. For this reason, some young ferrets end up neglected, when owner's patience runs out and the ferret is abandoned to its cage.

Ferret life-span can vary widely, but usually falls between six and ten years, though in rare cases ferrets can live into their early teens.

In the USA ferrets typically cost around $100 to $150. In Australia it is usually from $0.00 to $80.00 and the desexing is done by the new owners - descenting is often considered a mutilation. Additional costs of a secure cage, food, bedding, veterinary check-ups, and medicine should be taken into consideration by prospective owners.

[edit] Dangers to ferrets

It has been suggested that ferrets were bred for curiosity; whether this is true or not, their curiosity often exceeds their common sense. Ferrets are very good at getting into holes in walls, doors, cupboards, or behind household appliances, where they can be injured or killed by electrical wiring, fans, and other dangerous items. Many enjoy chewing items made of soft rubber, foam, or sponge, which present the risk of intestinal blockage and death if ingested. Serious and sometimes fatal injuries have resulted from ferrets chewing on electrical cords. Screen doors can be damaged by a ferret's claws, and dryer vents often become escape routes to the outdoors. Unlike dogs and cats, most ferrets have little homing instinct and cannot survive as strays, usually causing them to die of dehydration within a few days unless found.[citation needed]

Recliners are a leading cause of accidental death in ferrets.[4] Ferrets will often climb inside the springs and can be injured or killed once the chair is put into a reclined position. Fold-out sofas cause similar problems.

For these reasons, steps must be taken to "ferret-proof" a home before acquiring one as a pet. Ferret-proofing a house is an ongoing task that involves carefully going through each room, removing items dangerous to ferrets and covering over any holes or potential escape routes. As ferrets can open improperly latched cupboards or doors by rolling over and clawing at the bottom edge, many owners buy childproof latches or keep cleaning products in high, out-of-reach places. However, ferrets can typically fit through any hole as small as the size of their head, making some childproof latches ineffective.

[edit] Diet

Ferrets are obligate carnivores; the natural diet of their wild ancestors consisted of whole small prey--meat, organs, bones, skin, feathers, fur--not just meat.

Some ferret owners feed a meat-based diet consisting of whole prey like mice, rats and rabbits, along with other raw meat like chicken. This is preferred in Europe and Australia, and becoming increasingly popular in the US as concerns are raised about the high level of carbohydrate in some processed ferret foods. Australians also feed a lactose-free milk.

Alternatively there is a wide variety of commercial ferret foods available. Kitten foods can also be given, so long as they provide the high protein and fat content required by the ferret's metabolism. Most adult cat foods and many kitten foods are unsuitable for ferrets though, because of their low protein content. Ideally, a ferret food should contain 32-38% meat based protein and 15-20% fat. Low quality pet foods often contain grain-based proteins which ferrets cannot properly digest.

Ferrets often have a fondness for sweets like raisins, bananas, peanut butter, and pieces of cereal. Such treats should be given sparingly (if at all), as their high sugar content has been linked to insulinoma and other diseases. In fact, veterinarians suggest not feeding raisins and the like to ferrets at all because they are known to hide their food, raising the possibility of a ferret hiding a large amount of raisins over time and then dangerously consuming them all at once.

[edit] Feeding the Sick Ferret

If a ferret does not eat enough or loses too much weight, it is a good indication that the ferret is sick, and should be taken to a veterinarian. Sick ferrets and those recovering from an illness or surgery will often need to have their diet supplemented. Often hand-feeding or, in extreme cases, force feeding may be necessary. This should not be undertaken without the advice of a veterinarian. Many recipes are available for feeding sick ferrets. They are informally known as "duck soup".

[edit] Activity

Ferret waking from a nap
Ferret waking from a nap
Young ferrets in deep sleep
Young ferrets in deep sleep
a sleeping Albino ferret
a sleeping Albino ferret
an albino ferret getting caught off guard while yawning
an albino ferret getting caught off guard while yawning

Ferrets spend 14 to 18 hours a day sleeping, but when awake they are very active, exploring their surroundings relentlessly. Ferrets are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk. However, ferrets are known to easily adapt to the schedule of their owners. If kept in a cage, they should be let out for a few hours daily to get exercise and satisfy their curiosity. When ferrets are kept in their cages for too long, their walking ability can be affected, and they may become subject to depression or "cage stress." Ferrets, like cats, can use a litter box with training, though are not always totally litter box trainable.

Ferrets are also fine backyard companions and especially enjoy "helping" their owners in the garden. However, they should not be allowed to wander; ferrets are fearless to the point of foolishness and will get into whatever holes they will find, including storm drains. Whenever they are outside, they should be closely supervised and preferably kept on a harness leash designed for ferrets. There are different types of harnesses, and some ferrets prefer certain kinds. The H-shaped harness is the most popular. Collars will not work for ferrets as they do for dogs; a ferret can easily slip out of a collar because their heads are about the same width as their necks.

Additional care should be taken during mosquito and tick season, as ferrets are susceptible to the diseases carried by these parasites. Ticks can attach themselves and begin to draw blood. When the tick gets full, it regurgitates some blood and tick saliva back into the ferret, which is how Lyme and other diseases can be transmitted. Ordinarily, the regurgitation happens between five to 24 hours after the tick attaches. The key to keeping a ferret healthy is early removal of ticks using proper methods to avoid tick regurgitation, and prevention when in environments where encountering ticks is likely. Mosquitoes for their part can carry heart worms and the West Nile virus. Fleas can cause extreme skin irritation and can be intermediate hosts for tapeworms, one of which could potentially kill a ferret because of the ferret's small size. Also because of their small size, ferrets can also be regarded as prey by birds such as the hawk, and by larger snakes. Their small size also makes the venom of a bee, wasp or spider much more serious than for a larger mammal. For these reasons, an owner should be vigilant when a ferret is outdoors.

[edit] Play

Ferret playing tug with a hair pick
Ferret playing tug with a hair pick

Since ferrets are social animals, many of them are playful by nature and are happy to play with humans. Play for a ferret can involve hide-and-seek games, or some form of predator/prey game in which either the human attempts to catch the ferret or the ferret to catch the human.

Like a playful kitten, a ferret usually will not bite its human companions enough to cause pain, but will instead gently grab a toe or finger in their mouth and roll around with it. However, ferrets that have been abused or are in extreme pain will bite a human. Ferrets have strong bites and can sometimes bite through human skin, especially children's. Once properly socialized, however, domesticated ferrets will very rarely, if ever, bite humans.

Most kitten toys work well with ferrets. Toys made of rubber or foam should be avoided, however, as ferrets can chew off and swallow small pieces, possibly leading to intestinal blockage and possible choking. Ferrets love playing tug of war with toys and stuffed animals.

Ferrets regularly wrestle with each other, and with their owners.

When ferrets are especially excited, they will perform the weasel war dance, a frenzied series of sideways hops. This is often accompanied by a soft chuckling noise, called dooking by many ferret owners.

Ferrets love to play and, besides eating and sleeping, spend most of their time at play. They love to steal small items, so anything of special value must be kept out of their reach. Also, ferrets can drag and move things that are much bigger than they are.

[edit] Ferrets and children

Child with ferrets
Child with ferrets

Ferrets can make good pets for children. However, like all other domesticated animals, they should not be allowed unsupervised near infants or very young children. There have been cases where ferrets have severely injured babies, in at least one instance mauling a child's face.[5] Given that young children and ferrets can both be excitable and prone to rough play, interaction between ferrets and young children must always be closely supervised -- for the protection of both the children and the ferrets.

It is important to note that this danger is often overstated. In comparison, dogs account for 800,000 bites annually that require medical attention in the US and 20 deaths per year.

[edit] Social nature

Ferrets at play
Ferrets at play

Ferrets are extremely social animals, and most enjoy playing and interacting with other ferrets. Many ferret owners recommend owning two or three ferrets for this reason, but there is nothing wrong with owning one ferret, provided that it receives lots of play time and attention. Ferrets frequently bond emotionally with their owners as well as to other ferrets and bonded pairs are often observed to die just a few days apart from each other.

Ferrets have been known to play with household cats and small non-aggressive dogs. However, great care must be taken when introducing ferrets to any new animal, particularly terriers and other breeds with instincts for catching ferret-sized prey. Ferrets will normally not get along with rabbits, birds, rats, mice, guinea pigs and small reptiles, some of which would have comprised part of the diet of their wild ancestors, and so may attack them given a chance.

[edit] Unusual Behaviors

Ferrets have a repertoire of unusual behaviors that can make them both endearing and difficult pets for some people. Ferrets enjoy picking up objects and carrying them off to "hidey holes". It is difficult to predict what objects a ferret will decide are worthy of hoarding, but in addition to play toys owners have found socks, 10 lb bags of onions, keys, calculators, silverware, sponges, toilet paper rolls, game controllers, etc... Ferrets will also tear open packages and other containers to see what is inside or explore the inside of the package. Ferrets have a strong interest in holes, pipes and other small enclosed areas. Ferrets seem compelled to explore holes. This makes them useful for ratting and tasks such as running pull lines through conduits but it also makes them prone to getting lost. Ferrets are also very curious animals and relatively fearless. This often puts them in situations where they will confront and try to play with large animals that are dangerous to the ferret. Ferret curiosity can also lead them to wander off past the point where they can find their way home. Though ferrets sleep more than almost all domesticated animals, they are usually very active when awake. Their energy level during play is almost frenetic and can be too much for many other pets, particularly older animals which may feel harassed by the ferret's tenacious attention.

The War Dance:

It is easy to confuse this invitation to play and/or expression of happy excitement with a threatening gesture. Posture becomes rigid with wide open jaws, momentary eye contact, followed by thrashing or turning of the head from side to side, arching the back, piloerection and hopping to the side or backwards while facing the intended playmate. This is often accompanied by an excited laughing/panting sound that may sound like a hiss. If responded to appropriately, this behavior will usually break into a game of chase, pounce and wrestle. Ferrets in war dances are accident prone, often hopping into obstacles or tripping over their own feet to great comedic effect.

[1], [2], [3]

[edit] Care

Pet female ferrets should be spayed if they are not going to be bred. Ferrets go into extended heat and an unbred ferret without medical intervention can die of aplastic anemia.

Ferrets need their nails clipped and ears cleaned on a regular basis. Regular nail clippers will work, and most pet stores supply ferret specific ear cleaning solution. Most ferrets also shed twice a year, in the spring and fall; during this time, it is a good idea to brush them regularly and give them a laxative or petroleum jelly to help any ingested fur pass more easily through the digestive tract.

It is a misconception that ferrets smell bad. The bad smell usually attributed to ferrets comes from their bedding and litter box. Bedding should be washed or changed out regularly, and a ferret's litter box should be cleaned every day, or at least every other day. Depending on the cage, it is a good idea to take it apart and hose it down every once in a while, to remove material stuck in crevices.

Ferret after a shower
Ferret after a shower

Frequent bathing is not necessary. Most sources recommend bathing no more frequently than once every 6 months[citation needed], and many owners don't bathe their ferrets at all unless something needs to be washed off. Over-frequent bathing can actually increase a ferret's natural smell, as its skin works overtime to replace the oils lost in the bath.[citation needed]

However, some owners find that their ferrets enjoy baths and/or showers. In which case using a specific ferret shampoo that replenishes the oils in the ferret's coat can help to avoid the potential problem of dry skin. Just remember never to leave your ferret alone in deep water from which it may have trouble escaping.

It is recommended that ferrets are taken to a veterinarian for a yearly checkup. Ferrets often hide symptoms of illness very well, perhaps from an instinct to not appear weak to predators in the wild. Any out-of-the-ordinary behavior is good cause for a consultation. Ferrets have high metabolisms and cancers can progress at an alarmingly fast rate. Early detection is critical.

[edit] Other uses of ferrets

Ferrets have been used to run wires and cables through large conduits. They have been employed in this way by event organizers in London. TV and sound cables were run by ferrets both for the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer, and for the "Party in the Park" concert held in Greenwich Park on Millennium Eve.[6]

Since they share many anatomical and physiological features with humans, ferrets are extensively used as experimental subjects in biomedical research, in fields such as virology, reproductive physiology, anatomy, and endocrinology.

[edit] Ferret biology and health concerns

Like many other carnivores, ferrets have scent glands near their anuses, the secretions from which are used in scent marking. It has been reported that ferrets can recognize individuals from these anal gland secretions, as well as the sex of unfamiliar individuals.[7] Ferrets may also use urine marking for sex and individual recognitions.[8]

Like skunks, ferrets can release their anal gland secretions when startled or scared, but the smell dissipates rapidly. Most pet ferrets in the US are sold as descented, with their anal glands removed. In the UK descenting is considered an unnecessary mutilation and is illegal without some compelling medical justification. In Australia the general opinion is that the animal does not need to be descented.

Males, if not desexed, are extremely smelly (for lack of a better word). It is considered preferable to delay desexing until sexual maturity has been reached, at approximately 6 months old, after the full descent of the testicles. Desexing the male will reduce the smell to almost nothing. The same applies for females, but desexing there has more pressing reasons, as mentioned above with aplastic anemia.

Many domestic ferrets are known to suffer from several distinct health problems. Among the most common are cancers affecting the adrenal glands, pancreas, and lymphatic system. Certain breeds may also have a genetic defect known as Waardenburg syndrome .

Most ferrets will ultimately contract a life-threatening illness.[citation needed] It is uncommon for the domestic ferret to die from old age. Early detection and treatment of illnesses is the key to ensuring that ferrets live long and fun-filled lives.

[edit] Adrenal disease

Adrenal disease, a growth of the adrenal glands that can be either hyperplasia or cancer, is most often diagnosed by signs like unusual hair loss, increased aggression, and (in the case of females) an enlarged vulva. Even if the growth is benign, it can still cause a hormonal imbalance which can have devastating effects on the ferret's health.

Treatment options include surgery to excise the affected glands, melatonin implants, steroids and/or hormone therapy. The causes of adrenal disease are as yet uncertain, but speculated triggers include unnatural light cycles, diets based around processed ferret foods, and prepuberty neutering. It has also been suggested that there may be a hereditary component to adrenal disease.[9]

Adrenal disease is usually detected during the spring or fall. This is because adrenal disease affects the hormones that make the fur grow, so when ferrets with adrenal disease shed their winter coat they simply don't grow it back because of the disease. The hair loss pattern is very specific for adrenal disease: It begins at the base of the tail and then continues up the ferret's back.

[edit] Insulinoma

Ferrets are also known to suffer from insulinoma, a cancer of the pancreas. The growth of cancerous nodules on the lobes of the pancreas sometimes, but not always, leads to an increase in the production of insulin, which regulates the rate at which the ferret's body metabolizes blood glucose. Too much insulin will cause blood sugar to drop, resulting in lethargy, seizures, and ultimately death. Symptoms of insulinoma include episodes of lethargy, drooling, pawing and/or foaming at the mouth, staring "blankly" into space, and seizures.

Like adrenal cancer, the exact cause of insulinoma is unknown. It is speculated that the diets of domestic ferrets are too far removed from the natural diets of their polecat ancestors, and include too much sugar or simple carbohydrates.

Treatment for insulinoma may include surgical excision of the cancerous lobes, pharmaceutical treatment with steroids that suppress the production of insulin, supplemental changes in diet (most often poultry-based baby food), or a combination thereof. Unfortunately, the growth of the tumors cannot be completely stopped, and the ferret will eventually suffer a reoccurrence of symptoms.

[edit] Lymphoma

Lymphoma/lymphosarcoma is the most common malignancy in ferrets. Ferret lymphosarcoma occurs in two forms -- juvenile lymphosarcoma, a fast-growing type that affects ferrets younger than two years, and adult lymphosarcoma, a slower growing form that affects ferrets four to seven years old.

In juvenile ferret lymphosarcoma, large, immature lymphocytes (lymphoblasts) rapidly invade the thymus and/or the organs of the abdominal cavity, particularly the liver and spleen. In adult ferret lymphosarcoma, the lymph nodes in the limbs and abdominal cavity become swollen early on due to invasion by small, mature lymphocytes. Invasion of organs, such as the liver, kidney, lungs, and spleen, occurs later on, and the disease may be far advanced before symptoms are noticeable.

As in humans, ferret lymphosarcoma can be treated surgically, with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination thereof. The long-term prognosis is rarely bright, however, and this treatment is intended to improve quality of life with the disease.

[edit] Viral diseases

ECE (epizootic catarrhal enteritis), is a viral disease that first appeared in the northeastern US in 1994, is an inflammation of the mucous membranes in the intestine. In ferrets, the disease manifests itself as severe diarrhea (often of a bright green color), loss of appetite, and severe weight loss. The virus can be passed via fluids and indirectly between humans. Although it was often fatal when first discovered, ECE is less of a threat nowadays with the right supportive care which usually includes hospitalization with intravenous fluids. The virus is especially threatening to older ferrets and requires immediate attention.

ADV, the Aleutian disease virus, is a parvovirus originally found among mink in the Aleutian islands in the early 20th century. In ferrets, the virus affects the immune system (causing it to produce non-neutralizing antibodies) and many internal organs, particularly the kidneys. There is no cure or vaccine for the disease, and ferrets may carry the virus for months or years without any external symptoms. As a result, many ferret organizations and shelters recommend that owners test their pets for the virus regularly, separating them from other ferrets if they test positive.

Canine distemper is an extremely contagious virus that is almost always fatal. Being strict indoor pets does not necessarily protect ferrets as owners may bring the virus home on their clothes or their shoes. It is recommended that ferrets receive an annual vaccination. While this is vital to protect a ferret's health, it is not without controversy, and can cause anaphylactic shock. Some veterinarians prefer to pre-treat ferrets with injectable benadryl. In the United States there are currently two vaccines that can be used on ferrets, only one of which is USDA approved. In other countries of the world where there are no vaccines licensed for use on ferrets, dog canine distemper vaccines are commonly administered instead.

[edit] Waardenburg-Like Coloring

Ferrets with a white stripe on their face or a fully white head, primarily blazes, badgers, and pandas, almost certainly carry a congenital defect which shares some similarities to Waardenburg syndrome. This causes, among other things, a cranial deformation in the womb which broadens the skull, causing the white face markings but also partial or total deafness. It is estimated as many as 75% of ferrets with these Waardenburg-Like Colorings are deaf. Beyond that, the cranial deformation also causes a higher instance of stillborn ferret kits, and occasionally cleft palates. Because of this, many breeders will not breed Waardenburg-patterned ferrets.

[edit] Terminology and Coloring

A sable ferret, the most common color variation
A sable ferret, the most common color variation

Male ferrets are called hobs; female ferrets are jills. A spayed female is a sprite, and a neutered male is a gib. Ferrets under one year old are known as kits. A group of ferrets is known as a business.

Ferrets come in a variety of coat colors and patterns, the most common of which are as follows:

Colors:[10]

  • sable (the most common color)
  • red-eyed white (albino)
  • silver-mitt
  • sterling silver
  • white-footed sable
  • butterscotch
  • white-footed butterscotch
  • cinnamon
  • Panda (White head, stomach, tail and black torso and legs
  • black-eyed white (BEW) aka dark-eyed white (DEW)

Color concentrations:

  • point or siamese
  • roan
  • solid
  • standard

Markings:

  • blaze
  • mitt

White ferrets were favored in the Middle Ages for the ease in seeing them in thick undergrowth, and ownership was restricted to those earning at least 40 shillings a year (a large sum then).[citation needed] Leonardo's painting Lady with an Ermine is likely mislabeled; the animal is probably a ferret, not a stoat, for which "ermine" is an alternative name (the latter strictly applying only to the animal in its white winter coat). Similarly, the "Ermine portrait of Queen Elizabeth the First" shows her with her pet ferret, who has been decorated with painted-on heraldic ermine spots.

[edit] Ferrets as pests

In 1877, farmers in New Zealand demanded that ferrets be introduced into the country to control the rabbit population, which was also introduced by humans. Five ferrets were imported in 1879, and in 1882-1883, 32 shipments of ferrets were made from London, totaling 1217 animals. Only 678 landed, and 198 were sent from Melbourne, Australia. On the voyage, the ferrets were mated with the European polecat, creating a number of hybrids that were capable of surviving in the wild. In 1884 and 1886, close to 4000 ferrets and ferret hybrids, 3099 weasels and 137 stoats were turned loose.[11] Concern was raised that these animals would eventually prey on indigenous wildlife once rabbit populations dropped, and this is exactly what happened as New Zealand bird species had evolved free from mammalian predators.

[edit] Ferrets in literature and the media

  • The Greek playwright Aristophanes made references to ferrets in his satire The Achaeans written around the year 450 BC, comparing the Achaeans to ferrets, who were widely regarded as thieves.
  • The title character of the short story Sredni Vashtar by Edwardian satirist Saki is a "polecat" clandestinely kept by a young boy, who is liberated when the animal he worships as a god kills his overbearing guardian.
  • The children's book Zucchini by Barbara Dana is about a boy and his pet ferret. However, the author gets a number of basic ferret facts wrong, claiming that they are vegetarian rodents.
  • The BBC Children's TV magazine programme Xchange (CBBC) stars the puppet Vinnie, a wheeler dealer, general mischief making ferret.
  • In the film The Beastmaster, Two ferrets are introduced in this film as the hero's pets and helpers.
  • In the film The Big Lebowski, Lebowski is attacked in the bathroom by a "Marmot" which is really a ferret.
  • In the film Kindergarten Cop, John Kimble (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) owns a pet ferret, which later becomes the mascot of his kindergarten class and saves his life by biting the main antagonist near the end of the film.
  • In the film Starship Troopers, Colonel Carl Jenkins (played by Neil Patrick Harris) owns a pet ferret, which he mischievously tells (via Telepathy) to go and find a treat up his mother's leg.
  • Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, has written five books starring ferrets as part of his Ferret Chronicles series.
  • In the 2004 romantic comedy Along Came Polly, Jennifer Aniston's character, Polly, owns a ferret named Rodolfo who often runs head-first into stationary objects, to great comedic effect. The ferret is featured in the promotional material for the film.
  • The film and TV series The Beastmaster has two ferrets which appear as major characters. The series' protagonist usually kept them in a small pouch attached to his belt.
  • In the fourth Harry Potter book and film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the character Draco Malfoy is turned into an albino ferret.
  • HTV Wales has a long-running investigation series called The Ferret.
  • Ferrets are the obvious suspects in the mystery novel "Nothing to Fear but Ferrets" by Linda O. Johnston.
  • Budweiser Beer has used a fictitious ferret in a series of radio commercials. The so called "Budweiser ferret."
  • Bill Owen's character Compo in the BBC Series The Last of The Summer Wine (1973) had two ferrets which caused an uproar at a funeral in one episode, they also appeared in other episodes.
  • Japanese Media: Ferrets have appeared in the manga Ask The Stars for Help ( 困った時には星に聞け! ) by Miyuki Abe ( あべ 美幸 ) and in the anime series Nanoha ( なのは ) - "In a failed attempt to seal a seed properly, he winds up on Earth in the form of a ferret."
  • The popular webcomic Sluggy Freelance has a main character named Kiki who is a ferret.

[edit] Regulation on ferrets as pets

[edit] Australia

It is illegal to keep ferrets as pets in Queensland or the Northern Territory; in the ACT a license is required.

[edit] Iceland

Selling, distributing, breeding and keeping ferrets is illegal in Iceland.

[edit] New Zealand

It has been illegal to sell, distribute or breed ferrets in New Zealand since 2002.

[edit] Portugal

It is illegal to keep ferrets as pets in Portugal. Ferrets can only be used for hunting purposes and can only be kept with a government permit.

[edit] United States

Ferrets were once banned in many US states, but most of these laws were rescinded in the 1980s and 90s as they became popular pets. Ferrets are still illegal in California under Fish and Game Code Section 2118[12] and the California Code of Regulations.[13]

Additionally, "Ferrets are strictly prohibited as pets under Hawaii law because they are potential carriers of the rabies virus";[14] the territory of Puerto Rico has a similar law.[citation needed]

Ferrets are also restricted by individual cities, such as, Washington, DC, Beaumont, Texas, Columbia, Missouri, New York City, and Bloomington, Minnesota.[citation needed] They are also prohibited on many military bases.[citation needed] A permit to own a ferret is needed in other areas, including and Rhode Island.[citation needed] Illinois does not require a permit to merely possess a ferret, but a permit is required to breed ferrets.[15] It was once illegal to own ferrets in Dallas, Texas,[16] but the current Dallas City Code for Animals includes regulations for the vaccination of ferrets.[17]

[edit] Brazil

Ferrets are becoming popular. They are only allowed if they are given a microchip identification tag and sterilized.

[edit] Travel regulations

[edit] Airline policies

Note that most airlines require advance booking for ferret travel and may levy additional fees. Also, requirements concerning pet carrier size, weight, and construction vary from airline to airline.

Airline Cargo Cabin Notes Details
Air Canada Yes No No travel between December 19 and January 9 or between June 20 and September 10. Travelling with your Pet[18]
Delta Air Lines Yes Yes Pets as Carry On[19]
Luxair Yes Yes Restrictions apply on flights to the UK. Travelling with animals[20]
Northwest Airlines Yes No Travel with pet[21]
Ryanair No No What is Ryanair's policy on the carriage of animals?[22]
US Airways No No US Airways does not allow pets as cargo because of the heat in some of their hub cities, such as Las Vegas. US Airways - Pets in the Passenger Cabin[23]
Southwest Airlines No No Animals and Pets[24]

[edit] Train policies

Company Cargo Cabin Notes Details
Deutsche Bahn N/A Yes
Eurostar No No Information on taking Pets and Guide dogs on Eurostar[25]

[edit] Import laws

[edit] Japan

Although previously pet ferrets were allowed to be brought into Japan, that is no longer the case. Individual pet ferrets cannot be brought into Japan without proper documents. However, licensed breeders such as Canadian Farms, PVF, Marshall's, etc... have a special agreement that still allows the import of those ferrets from those companies.

[edit] Canada

Ferrets brought from anywhere except the US require a Permit to Import from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Animal Health Office. Ferrets from the US require only a vaccination certificate signed by a veterinarian. Ferrets under three months old are not subject to any restrictions for importation.[26]

[edit] European Union

As of July 2004, dogs, cats, and ferrets can travel freely within the European Union under the PETS travel scheme. To cross a border within the EU, ferrets require at minimum an EU PETS passport and an identification microchip (though some countries will accept a tattoo instead). Vaccinations are also required; most countries require a rabies vaccine, and some also require a distemper vaccine and treatment for ticks and fleas 24 to 48 hours before entry. PETS travel information is available from any EU veterinarian or on government websites.

[edit] United Kingdom

The UK accepts ferrets under the PETS travel scheme. Ferrets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and documented. They must be treated for ticks and tapeworms 24 to 48 hours before entry. They must also arrive via an authorized route. Ferrets arriving from outside the EU may be subject to a six-month quarantine.[27]

[edit] Australia

Ferrets cannot be imported into Australia at all. A report drafted in August 2000 seems to be the only effort made to date to change the situation.[28]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Glover, James. The Ancestry of the Domestic Ferret. PetPeoplesPlace.com. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  2. ^ Feral Ferrets in New Zealand. California's Plants and Animals. California Department of Fish and Game. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  3. ^ Defence News. Yorkshire Regiment makes its debut. UK Ministry of Defence. Retrieved on 2007-02-24.
  4. ^ Ferret Proofing/Safety. texasferret.org. Retrieved on 2007-2-16.
  5. ^ 'Mauled baby' mother cleared. BBC News. BBC (2003-07-02). Retrieved on 2007-03-03.
  6. ^ Ferrets save millennium concert. BBC News. BBC (1999-12-29). Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  7. ^ Clapperton, BK; Minot EO, Crump DR (April 1988). "An Olfactory Recognition System in the Ferret Mustela furo L. (Carnivora: Mustelidae)". Animal Behaviour 36 (2): 541-553. ISSN: 0003-3472. 
  8. ^ Zhang, JX; Soini HA, Bruce KE, Wiesler D, Woodley SK, Baum MJ, Novotny MV (November 2005). "Putative Chemosignals of the Ferret (Mustela furo) Associated with Individual and Gender Recognition" (HTML). Chemical Senses 30 (9): 727-737. DOI:10.1093/chemse/bji065. Online ISSN: 1464-3553. Retrieved on 2007-02-25. 
  9. ^ Johnson-Delaney, Cathy A (2006). Proceedings of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians. AEMV. Retrieved on 2007-03-03.
  10. ^ Morton, E. Lynn "Fox" and Chuck; Earle-Bridges, Michelle, photographer (2000). Ferrets: everything about purchase, care, nutrition, diseases, behavior, and breeding. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 13 – 14. ISBN 0-7641-1050-0. 
  11. ^ RABBIT CONTROL. A Hundred Years of Rabbit Impacts, and Future Control Options. New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Rabbit Biocontrol Advisory Group. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  12. ^ Fish and Game Code Section 2118. California Codes. State of California. Retrieved on 2006-09-19.; the Code states, in part: "animals of the families Viverridae and Mustelidae in the order Carnivora are restricted because such animals are undesirable and a menace to native wildlife, the agricultural interests of the state, or to the public health or safety."
  13. ^ Section 671(c)(2)(K)(5): "Family Mustelidae". California Code Of Regulations, Title 14: Natural Resources, Division 1: "Fish And Game Commission — Department Of Fish And Game", Subdivision 3: "General Regulations", Chapter 3: "Miscellaneous",Section 671: "Importation, Transportation and Possession of Live Restricted Animals". Retrieved on 2006-09-19. Ferrets are not among the exceptions to the classification "Those species listed because they pose a threat to native wildlife, the agriculture interests of the state or to public health or safety are termed "detrimental animals" and are designated by the letter "D".
  14. ^ News Release:Illegal Ferret Found in Kailua. State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Retrieved on 2006-09-19.
  15. ^ Wild Bird and Game Bird Breeder Permit Application (pdf). Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  16. ^ Dallas. Prohibited by Ordinance. Ferret Lover's Club of Texas (1996 – 2005). Retrieved on 2006-09-19.
  17. ^ Animal Services. Dallas City Code, Chapter 7: "Animals"; Article VII: "Miscellaneous". American Legal Publishing Corporation. Retrieved on 2006-09-19.
  18. ^ Travelling with your Pet. Air Canada. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  19. ^ Pets as Carry On. Delta Air Lines, Inc.. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  20. ^ Travelling with animals. Special Requests. Luxair S.A.. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  21. ^ Can I travel with or ship my pet. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  22. ^ What is Ryanair's policy on the carriage of animals?. Baggage. Ryanair.com. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  23. ^ US Airways - Pets in the Passenger Cabin. Baggage. US Airways. Retrieved on 2006-10-26.
  24. ^ Southwest Airlines Travel Policies - Animals and Pets. Baggage. Southwest Airlines. Retrieved on 2006-10-10.
  25. ^ Information on taking Pets and Guide dogs on Eurostar. Questions and Answers. Eurostar Group Ltd.. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  26. ^ Importation of Foxes, Skunks, Raccoons and Ferrets. Pet Imports. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (2006-03-20). Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  27. ^ PETS: How to bring your ferret into or back into the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Animal health & welfare. Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (defra) © Crown copyright 2006. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
  28. ^ Importation of Ferrets into Australia, Import Risk Analysis - Draft Report (.pdf). Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) (August 2000). Retrieved on 2006-09-12.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
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[edit] Organizations and shelters

[edit] Biology, Veterinary Science

[edit] Diet

[edit] Gallery

Ancient painting of Ferret (Mustella putorius furo)
Ancient painting of Ferret (Mustella putorius furo)