Friday, November 9, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #50: Ferret Fanciers Edition

A Mother Life

Late last night, I was lying in bed flipping through the channels for something to watch, and I came across a program called Ferrets: The Pursuit of Excellence on PBS. As luck would have it, I came to the program in the middle, just in time for this:

If you needed a reason to keep funding PBS, folks, there it is. The same lady goes on to explain that she got into ferret breeding after her children left home, and that she finds it, in some ways, more fulfilling than raising kids, because, and I swear to Bill Nye this is an exact quote, “You can put them in cages, and they arrest you if you do that to your kids.”

Fair enough.

The program talks about ferret breeders and ferret shows, and what makes a show ferret, and how exciting it is to win ferret show ribbons and trophies. At one point we’re treated to a montage of all these different peoples’ ferrets dressed up in silly costumes, including a Hawaiian hula dancer costume with six coconut-shell boobs. Cute.

The ferrets, of course, hang limply in their owners’ hands, with “please, kill me now” expressions on their little weasel faces. Some of them are wearing hats.

I think ferrets are cute and all, but I never really understood the whole “pet show” thing. I guess once you’ve got a bunch of ferrets, the least you can do is show them off.

Look at this guy holding his ferret behind his back like it's a water bottle or something. ~ Rob Farrow

1) Ferrets began gaining ground as pets in the 1980s. I remember this, because Mamma bought a couple at one point. I don’t remember what happened to them, or what their names were, or even whether I liked them or not, but they were around, dammit.

Prior to the 1980s, ferrets were illegal in the United States, but their surge in popularity tempted many states and municipalities to rescind these laws. They remain restricted in some states and cities.

2) A group of ferrets is known as a business. So when you go to a ferret show, you’re walking into a business of ferrets.

3) Ferrets are a close cousin of the European polecat, from which they were likely domesticated back in the mists of time, by which I mean between 1500 and 500 BC. They may also have been domesticated from the Steppe polecat, or perhaps from both species, somehow. It’s true that, in areas where ferrets and polecats live together in the wild, they’ll contentedly produce little half-breed love weasels like they’re trying to repopulate the planet, or something.

Kinky. ~ Jan Dusek

4) In 1877, farmers in New Zealand decided to introduce ferrets to deal with the rabbits, which had already taken over the entire southern hemisphere. Between 1879 and 1886, several thousand ferrets, weasels and stoats were released in New Zealand. They ate all the rabbits, and then proceeded to decimate the islands’ native bird populations.

Thanks Obama.

5) For thousands of years, ferrets were used as hunting animals in a practice known as “ferreting.” Their curiosity, bloodthirstiness, and pipe-cleaner-like physical properties make them an excellent choice for flushing rabbits, moles, rats and other rodents out of their holes. In 6 BC, the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus used ferrets to stamp out a plague of rabbits in the Balearic Islands. Some nations, including Finland and the UK, continue to control pest rabbits in this manner.

6) The American Ferret Association was founded in Montgomery County, Maryland, in 1987. They seek to educate the public about ferrets, support the Black Footed Ferret Program, help veterinarians receive continuing education about treating ferrets, hold ferret shows, and support ferret breeders and ferret rescue shelters. That’s right, just like with dogs and cats, if you’re interested in adopting a ferret, you can go pick up somebody’s used one.

Fully loaded, only 30,000 miles.