photo by Jesse DeMartino
Mustela furo, the domestic European ferret, is a member
of the weasel family (polecat, mink, skunk, ermine, otter, etc.).
The first ferrets came
to the United States over 300 years ago on ships and were used
for rodent control. There are no populations of "wild" ferrets
in the United States, except for the North American Black- footed
Ferret, which is an endangered species and just recently reintroduced to Wyoming. Pet ferrets have no hunting instinct left;
they will chase and catch rodents, but don't know how to "survive"
on them. Ferrets are domestic
in the truest sense of the word.
They come in a variety of colors,
with albino being the original color of pet ferrets. Other popular
colors are sable (with raccoon-like mask), chocolate (brown),
silver (white with sprinkling of black hairs and black eyes),
and cinnamon (just to name a few colors). Patterns are mitts
(white feet), panda (white head), badger (white blaze), and Siamese
(dark legs and tail).
Male ferrets are referred to as hobs
and average from 2 to 5 pounds. Female ferrets are called jills
and are half the size of the males. Baby ferrets are called kits
and are considered "adults" at 6-7 months of age. A group of
ferrets is called "a business of ferrets."
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