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Ferret Facts

Ferret Facts

The Latin name for ferret, Mustela putorius furo means ‘smelly little thief’

A group of ferrets is called a Business

A male Ferret is called a Hob

A female Ferret is a Jill

Life span is around 6to 8 years

The Weasel War Dance

For those unfamiliar with ferrets, the so-called “weasel war dance” could be rather off-putting. With its back arched, the ferret will hop about in a frenzy, its tail puffed out. It often makes strange hissing noises. While normally quite agile, during this phase they tend to knock into things and topple over clumsily. This display might seem like the ultimate expression of ferocity, but it is really just an invitation to play, much like a dog will wiggle around when its leash or a favorite toy is produced. However, in wild species like stoats and other weasels, this “dance” is actually used to transfix prey such as rabbits. After a few moments, the much faster rabbit is captivated by the bizarre motion, and cannot react fast enough to flee when the weasel goes in for the kill.

Working Ferrets

While they might be new to pet stores, ferrets have been domesticated for over 2000 years. A hunter would travel afield with his animals in a small cage or pouch, and upon sighting a rabbit warren, would let the ferret crawl inside. A few moments later, the rabbit would burst from another hole, the ferret in hot pursuit. From there, the hunter might shoot it or send fleet dogs like lurchers after it. For centuries, such practices were a vital lifeline for people trying to feed their families, but today it is largely done for sport or for controlling the rabbit population, which can quickly rise to destructive vermin levels if left unchecked. Often, the hunter will gut the rabbit and feed it to his ferrets, as they are a much better source of nutrition than commercially available foods. As one can imagine, there are many detractors of this pastime, with many claiming it to be a barbarous relic of the past.

The majority of “working” ferrets are used to eradicate vermin, but they have other, less obvious purposes. Their ability to worm their way through confined spaces has led several institutions to use them for running wire. In the 1960s, aircraft manufacturer Boeing used ferrets to string wire through planes. They were also used to run cable at Buckingham Palace for the 1981 nuptials of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Ferrets were also used to lay cables in tunnels underneath Greenwich Park to save London’s New Years’ Eve Millennium Concert. The ferrets were encouraged to scamper through the tunnels with bits of meat baiting them at the other end.

Ferrets as Pets

Nibbler, who helped with the wiring of the Large Hadron Collider.