In general use, a ferret is a domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Several other small, elongated carnivorous mammals belonging to the family Mustelidae (weasels) also have the word "ferret" in their common names, including the endangered black-footed ferret. The ferret is a very close relative of the polecat, but it is as yet unclear whether it is a domesticated form of the European polecat, the Steppe polecat, or some hybrid of the two.
Ferret Face Picture

In general use, a ferret is a domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Several other small, elongated carnivorous mammals belonging to the family Mustelidae (weasels) also have the word "ferret" in their common names, including the endangered black-footed ferret. The ferret is a very close relative of the polecat, but it is as yet unclear whether it is a domesticated form of the European polecat, the Steppe polecat, or some hybrid of the two.

The history of the ferret's domestication is uncertain, like that of most other domestic animals. It is very likely that ferrets have been domesticated for at least 2500 years, but it is not certain for what purpose the ferret was originally domesticated. It is known though that the Romans used ferrets for hunting rabbits. They are still used for that purpose in some parts of the world today, but increasingly they are being kept simply as pets.

Being so closely related to polecats, ferrets are quite easily able to hybridize with them, and this has occasionally resulted in feral colonies of ferret polecat hybrids that have been perceived to have caused damage to native fauna, perhaps most notably in New Zealand. As a result, some parts of the world have imposed restrictions on the keeping of ferrets.

History

The ferret was most likely domesticated from the European polecat (Mustela putorius), though it is also possible that ferrets are descendants of the Steppe polecat (Mustela eversmannii), or some hybridization thereof. Analysis of mitochondrial DNA suggests that ferrets were domesticated around 2500 years ago, although what appear to be ferret remains have been dated to 1500 BC. It has been claimed that the ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate ferrets, but as no mummified remains of a ferret have yet been found, or any hieroglyph of a ferret, that idea seems unlikely.

The ancient Greeks seem to have been familiar with ferrets. Ferrets, or at least ferret-like animals, are mentioned in a play written by Aristophanes, The Acharnians, in 425 BC. Whether this was actually a reference to ferrets or to polecats is uncertain, as the Greek word ictis is translated by some authorities as ferret and by others as polecat.

Colonies of feral ferrets have established themselves in areas where there is no competition from similarly sized predators, such as in the Shetland Islands. Where ferrets coexist with polecats, hybridization is common. It has been claimed that New Zealand has the world's largest feral population of ferret-polecat hybrids.

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

Ferreting

Main article: Rabbiting

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 out of their burrows. Caesar Augustus sent ferrets (named "viverrae" by Plinius) to the Balearic Islands to control the rabbit plagues in 6 BC.They are still used for hunting in some countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, where rabbits are considered a plague species. However, the practice is illegal in several countries, where it is feared that ferreting could unbalance the ecology.

In England, in 1390, a law was enacted restricting the use of ferrets for hunting to those of substantial means:

“ ...it is ordained that no manner of layman which hath not lands to the value of forty shillings a year (the equivalent of about £1,000 in today's money) shall from henceforth keep any greyhound or other dog to hunt, nor shall he use ferrets, nets, heys, harepipes nor cords, nor other engines for to take or destroy deer, hares, nor conies, nor other gentlemen's game, under pain of twelve months' imprisonment.”

Ferrets were first introduced into 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.

Ferrets as pets

Ferrets are energetic, curious, and always interested in their surroundings. They actively solicit 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.
The popularity of ferrets as pets in the USA, beginning in the 1970s, has been attributed 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.

Dangers to ferrets

It has been suggested that ferrets were bred for their 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 in or behind household appliances such as clothes dryers and dishwashers, where they can be injured or killed by drowning, 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, many ferrets display little homing instinct and often do not thrive as strays.

Recliners are a leading cause of accidental death in ferrets. 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.

Some people might prefer to house their pets outdoors in sheds, and not indoors. This is becoming more popular, as owners realize the photoperiod effects to the ferret being kept in light after the sun goes down.

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, rabbits, along with raw meat like chicken, beef, veal, kangaroo and wallaby. 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.

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 and high fiber. 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.

Ferrets, like many other carnivores, gradually lose the ability to digest lactose after they are weaned. As a result, lactose-free milk is to be preferred.

Activity

Ferrets spend 14 to 18 hours a day sleeping, but when awake they are very active, exploring their surroundings relentlessly. Ferrets are naturally crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk. 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 completely 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.

Play

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. They also have a strong nesting instinct and will repeatedly carry socks or other items back into piles hidden under objects.
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 are easily entertained, so spending large amounts of money on ferret toys is unnecessary. Since ferrets are burrowing animals by nature, they will happily busy themselves with basic household objects such as cardboard boxes, blankets, and shoes. Dryer vent tubing can be used to create an interactive tunnel system, which can easily be collapsed and stored when not in use. 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 and children

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 but in nearly all cases there are the same reasons: neglect, abuse, or roughhousing that the ferret perceives as an attack and retaliates out of self defense. In the particular case of infants, young ferrets are attracted to the smell of milk on the baby's breath. 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.

Social nature

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 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, rodents, chinchillas, 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.

Behaviors

Ferrets enjoy playing with just about everything
Ferrets have a repertoire of 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, textbooks, 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 rabbiting 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 in which they will confront and try to play with large animals that are dangerous to the ferret. Ferrets' curiosity can also lead them to wander off until they are unable to 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 very accident prone, often hopping into obstacles or tripping over their own feet to great comic effect.

Care

Pet female ferrets should be spayed if they are not going to be bred. Ferrets go into extended heat, and an unbred female 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. Ferrets usually shed twice a year, in the spring and fall: during this time, it can be a good idea to brush them regularly. Some owners also administer a laxative, to help any ingested fur pass more easily through the digestive tract: others believe that the administration of laxatives to an animal with such a short "mouth to floor" duration may be potentially harmful.

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.

However, some owners find that their ferrets enjoy baths and/or showers; 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. Water is a highly subjective taste among ferrets, and some ferrets may become anxious when exposed.

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.

Other uses of ferrets

Ferrets have been used to run wires and cables through large conduits. Event organizers in London used ferrets to run TV and sound cables for both 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.
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, endocrinology and neuroscience.

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. Ferrets may also use urine marking for sex and individual recognitions.

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 de-scented, with their anal glands removed. In the UK, de-scenting is considered an unnecessary mutilation, and is illegal without some compelling medical justification. In Australia and the UK, the general opinion is that the animal does not need to be de-scented.

Males, if not neutered, are extremely musky. It is considered preferable to delay neutering until sexual maturity has been reached, at approximately 6 months old, after the full descent of the testicles. Neutering the male will reduce the smell to almost nothing. The same applies for females, but spaying them is also important for their own health.

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 colours of ferret may also carry a genetic defect known as Waardenburg syndrome.

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, difficulty urinating or defecating, or agitation when urinating, 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, which treat the symptoms but not the disease itself, 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.
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.

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.

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.

Viral diseases

Epizootic catarrhal enteritis (ECE)
ECE, a viral disease that first appeared in the northeastern US in 1994, is an inflammation of the mucous membranes in the intestine. 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.

Aleutian disease virus (ADV)

Aleutian Disease Virus (ADV) is a parvovirus discovered 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, some 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

Canine distemper (CD) 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. The only protection against the virus is vaccination, but that is not without controversy as there have been reports, particularly from the USA, of ferrets going into anaphylactic shock after being vaccinated against CD.

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.

Terminology and coloring

A sable ferret, the most common color variation Male intact ferrets are called hobs; female intact 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 ones recognized by the American Ferret Association are as follows:
Colors:

• Albino
• Poley(sable)- whole variations of lights and darks
• Sandy (champagne/cinnamon)- whole variations of lights and darks
• Slivermitt/black eyed white (a variation of black and white fur with black eyes)

American mutations have been bred like the blue ferret. Color concentrations:

• Standards
• Roans
• Point (Siamese)
• Solids Markings:
• Blaze
• Panda
• Mitt

White ferrets were favored in the Middle Ages for the ease in seeing them in thick undergrowth. 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.

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. Concern was raised that these animals would eventually prey on indigenous wildlife once rabbit populations dropped, and this is exactly what happened to New Zealand bird species which previously had no mammalian predators.

Ferrets in literature and the media

• The Greek playwright Aristophanes made reference to ferrets in his satire The Acharneans written around the year 425 BC. "What a happy man he’ll be that marries you and begets a set of ferrets as good as you at farting in the grey dawn!".

• The main character in the manga series Peach Fuzz is a ferret named Peach who has delusions of being a princess.

• 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.

• 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 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, the Ferret Chronicles series.

• In the 2004 romantic comedy Along Came Polly, Jennifer Aniston's character, Polly, owns a blind ferret who often runs head-first into stationary objects, to great comic 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.

• The BBC children's television magazine program Xchange featured the puppet Vinnie, a mischievous 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.

• Bill Owen's character Compo in the BBC Series Last of The Summer Wine (1973) had two ferrets which caused an uproar at a funeral in one episode.

• 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.

• A ferret called Fungo Squiggly is one of the supporting characters in the Get Fuzzy comic strip by Darby Conley.

• There are numerous ferrets in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.
• Paris Hilton once owned a ferret. She walked the red carpet with it many times, and was publicly scrutinized for taking the ferret, as well as several other animals, to social events.

• On Tucker Carlson Live, Rudy Giuliani tells a man who called in asking why he banned ferrets in New York City that "The excessive concern that you have for ferrets is a sickness that you should examine with a therapist."

• In the cartoon series The Littles, Dr. Hunter had a ferret which he often used to try to capture the Littles.

• In a commercial for Diet Mountain Dew, a ferret walks through the woods with a hockey mask and a chainsaw, chasing two teens, after which the commercial says that ferrets attack more people than grizzly bears. This, by the way, is purely factitious as there is no such statistic anywhere on record.

• Not once in any news facilitation in the year 2006 or 2007 has there been a report of a ferret attack. There has however been numerous stories about pit-bull attacks and such. Ferrets are by far statistically safer than any domesticated animal.

• In the manga and anime Strawberry Marshmallow (苺ましまろ, Ichigo Mashimaro) by Barasui, the character Matsuri Sakuragi owns a pet ferret named John.

• In the manga Ai Yori Aoshi by Kou Fumizuki, Miyabi Kagurazaki acts as the main caretaker of an explorative albino ferret named Uzume.

Regulation on ferrets as pets

Australia

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

Iceland

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

New Zealand

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

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.

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 and the California Code of Regulations.

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

Ferrets are also restricted by individual cities, such as, Washington, DC and New York City. They are also prohibited on many military bases. A permit to own a ferret is needed in other areas, including Rhode Island.

Illinois does not require a permit to merely possess a ferret, but a permit is required to breed ferrets. It was once illegal to own ferrets in Dallas, Texas, but the current Dallas City Code for Animals includes regulations for the vaccination of ferrets.

Brazil

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

Travel Airline policies

Most airlines require advance booking for ferret travel, and may levy additional fees. Requirements concerning pet carrier size, weight, and construction may vary from airline to airline. In the U.S., Delta Airlines is the only airline to allow ferrets in the cabin during a flight.

7 Comments

5 years 5 weeks ago, 11:09 PM

mandy

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here in California we cant have these little guys im not sure why but we cant

pit bulls rock the world
5 years 4 weeks ago, 12:52 AM

ilovemyminirexCoco

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Secretary of State
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Jan 2009

for some reson male ferrets smell really weird.

Coco

4 years 44 weeks ago, 5:41 PM

ShwnJo

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Colonel
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Aug 2009

they seem like nice pets

3 years 51 weeks ago, 1:12 AM

Retired SC L.E.O.

Retired SC L.E.O.'s picture

Rank:
Major
Points:
46
Join Date:
Jul 2010

Very nice. I always wanted one when I was younger. I have too much going on now but they sure fun to watch!

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