You think I joke? I kid you not–some nitwit in Argentina was persuaded that a ferret was a mini poodle. He purchases one, and when home realized it was actually a huge ferret, one that had steroids foisted upon it when a baby to make it grow larger than the average animal. If that wasn’t insult enough, the trickster groomed! the ferret to look as though it had long fuzzy hair. It’s time again to teach the uninformed public just what a ferret is, and to point to titles that explore this species thoroughly.
First, a dog is much larger than a ferret without steroids could possibly be, unless you have a teeny weeny runt of the Chihuahua litter. A Ferret’s fur is not wavy, unless up in curlers over night like the rest of us Joni Mitchell lookalikes. Second, a ferret’s face is more pointed than a dogs, and sometimes downright cuter. But most of all, you’d have to be on drugs to mistake the structure of a ferret’s body with that of a dog’s. Ferrets are slim pliable creatures that can weasel their way through holes that are the same size as their heads. I’d love to see a dog try that. And, Mr. Complete Dummy on Huffington Post, perhaps a little reading of the books mentioned here would have been advisable BEFORE you decided to label the fake dog, a weasel. Entirely different things. Weasels are wild, domesticated ferrets are not. Weasels live in the wild, ferrets live in your house. Weasels can be mean biting things, ferrets are fun loving bundles of joy who bite far less than dogs or cats, and believe me, if nipped by a ferret’s teeny teeth, the pain you feel is negligible to the agony a cat’s canines can provide. I know, one of my cat’s sunk its eye teeth into my forearm, I thought I’d been stabbed with the ends of red hot pokers.
Ferrets For Dummies would be the best title for Huffington’s wiseacre. All ferret facts are laid out in easy to read language even he could comprehend. If he wanted a little lightheartedness in his info, Mary Shefferman’s The Ferret: An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet would be the ticket. Mary is a practical expert based on owning about a billion fuzzies, and having founded the first magazine devoted totally to this pet, Modern Ferret. Unfortunately now defunct, it was a creative, visual delight, that true, had a definite voice, that of her and her husband, but it also gave real tips that could be used, not just scientific mumbo jumbo and ads ads ads. She took on City Hall back in the olden black days when ferrets were illegal in NY–oh wait, they’re still illegal–hmm. Mayor Greenburg prides himself on reasonableness, unlike his predecessor. Has the ferret community attempted to get a bill passed lately? Back in the late 90s, a real effort was exacted to bring about this no brainer of a change, with the City Council of NYC passing the bill. However, the same man who put first responder units in the World Trade Center, believed ferrets were a danger to apartment residents–you know, those deadly creatures could climb into the walls, travel about as they’d like, maybe with little suitcases full of weapons, and then attack unsuspecting dwellers in their beds. And it wouldn’t stop there. They would eat human YOUNG. That’s right, devour babies left and right.
It was political. Imagine that? One particular idiot, and I say that as kindly as possible, ferret fanatic, had ticked off the head of the health department, and therefore, Mayor Giuliani wouldn’t set ferrets free if they came knocking on his door with a thirteenth ferret amendment. I know, because in front of him and other people at the town meeting, I read a three minute speech that they changed to a two minute time limit–so I went pretty fast until he slowed me down, and I likened ferrets wanting to live here in NYC to immigrants coming over. Which is exactly how ferrets arrived here. They chase rodents and vermin, so they were included on ships across the sea. In colonial times, ferrets were the official mascot of a New England navy. In the Victorian years, ferrets were hired to eliminate the same vermin types from apartment buildings. They worked very hard at this. A story was even written about one particular guy. Besides the mayor complimenting me on the high quality of my writing, nothing changed. He vetoed the bill.
After the 9/11 tragedy, ferrets became low on the priority list of wanted terrorists. Nonetheless, if found, the police have every right to confiscate your pets.
Just in case you, the reader would like some factoids without needing to buy one of the books–here’s a few:
1. Ferrets are NOT rodents. Yes, they are of the weasel family but not weaselly themselves
2. Ferrets are NOT wild creatures. They CANNOT live outside. Period. They will die horrible deaths if dumped by the side of the road by a former owner who thinks it’s perfectly OK
, the ferret will be returned to the wild. NO, a thousand times no.
3. Ferrets do not eat babies. Not one report of a swallowed tyke as been reported. There have been no deaths reported by ferret paws.
4. Ferrets do NOT carry rabies any more than cats or dogs, and there are so few statistics of ferrets having or transferring rabies, that it’s almost negligible. Plus, if a ferret owner has the ferret vaccinated, no problem.
5. Ferrets have been domesticated for thousands of years–ok–thousands. This is the same as number 2. They are not wild.
6. Ferrets don’t stink. OK, they have an odor, but nothing worse than a wet dog, or god knows, cat pee–I think cat pee is the worse smell around, and ferrets are roses compared to that. If altered, as they should be, they
have far less odor, and if de-scented, which is controversial, they have even less less. And if washed, well, you get the picture. If you are disturbed by their musky odor–make sure you stay away from most male colognes.
7. Ferrets are NOT for everyone, as a matter of fact, I would try to talk anyone out of owning one. They are mischievous, sneaky, and steel socks, remote controls, even cameras, if you’re stupid enough to leave one with a nice juicy rubber grip around. They eat rubber, which causes blockages which will kill them. Vet costs are astronomical. They have short
lives, at best you can get 8 years–if a miracle–9, usually 5 or 6 years before they succumb to cancer due to interbreeding here in the US.
8. They CANNOT be litter trained. I can hear ferret lovers around the world disputing this. Please, call a ferret a ferret. They won’t oblige. Sure, if you have one ferret and keep the
poor guy in a cage all the time and make sure he understands what corner he’s allowed to poop in, he may be considered ‘trained’. I did that with my first ferret according to the books I had back then, and as soon as he was allowed out for any length of time, he pooped where ever. And when pals came along–forgetaboutit. Poop fest USA. Now granted, their natural poopiness usually does tend to be done in corners, but still, not trainable. If I am wrong, so be it, I’ve had over 25 ferrets over a period of almost 30 years, I’ve not yet seen a ferret use the bathroom facilities.
There are plenty of other ferret books out there, one written by a former vet of mine, whom I didn’t particularly like. Her other comrades in ferret arms were fantastic, one became the head of a major department at a local well regarded vet college. Mention her name, all the vets I go to around here, studied under her.
I hope this has cleared some misconceptions up about ferrets. Why would someone want them as pets? They are the most joyful creatures on the planet. Intelligent, funny, inquisitive, adorable souls, who have gifted me with some of the best moments in my life. And that’s saying something. It’s saying, they aren’t mini poodles.