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Ferret FAQ [1/5] - About Ferrets and This FAQ
Section - (3.2) Are ferrets wild? Why are there ferret permits?

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Top Document: Ferret FAQ [1/5] - About Ferrets and This FAQ
Previous Document: (3.1) What are ferrets? Do they make good pets?
Next Document: (3.3) Are ferrets legal where I live? Do I need a license?
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Domestic pet ferrets, Mustela furo (sometimes called Mustela putorius
furo), are not wild animals.

They have been domesticated for a very long time, perhaps two or
three thousand years.  They're not equipped to survive for very long
on their own; escaped pets suffer from dehydration, starvation and
exposure, and usually don't survive more than a few days unless
someone takes them in.  Unlike cats and dogs, ferrets aren't even
large enough to push over garbage cans and scavenge.

Domestic ferrets are generally believed to be descended from the
European polecat; they were originally used as hunting animals to
catch rabbits and rodents.  They weren't supposed to kill the prey,
they just chased them out of their holes and the farmers (hunters)
killed them.  This practice is now illegal in the U.S. and Canada, but
it's still fairly popular in the U.K. and some other places.

A "ferret-free zone," or FFZ, is a place where ferrets are banned or
illegal [3.3].  In some other places, ferret owners are required to
have licenses or permits.  States, counties, and municipalities outlaw
or restrict ferrets for a variety of reasons, pretty much all invalid,
but I'd say that the fundamental problem is that many people don't
understand what a pet ferret is.

What are some of those invalid reasons, you ask?  Well, a common one
is that ferrets are seen as wild animals like raccoons or skunks,
rather than a domestic species like housecats.  Of course, ferrets
have been domesticated for at least 2500 years.

Another popular misconception is that ferrets pose a serious rabies
danger; in fact, studies have indicated that it's very hard for a
ferret to catch rabies, and when one does, it dies very quickly, so
the danger is very small indeed.  Besides, there's a ferret rabies
vaccine which has been shown to be effective.

A third common reason for banning ferrets is the idea that escaped
pets (nearly all of which are spayed or neutered) will form feral
packs and threaten livestock or native wildlife.  There are no
confirmed cases of feral ferrets (as opposed to polecats or
polecat-ferret crosses, for instance) in the U.S., and a few
deliberate attempts to introduce domestic ferrets to the wild have
failed miserably, so this, too, is an unfounded fear -- even if one
could picture a ferret harming a cow or breaking into a commercial
poultry farm.

The only states which now ban ferrets are California and Hawaii.  In
the face of overwhelming evidence, many areas are being persuaded to
change their outdated regulations.

Most of the misconceptions regarding domestic ferrets probably come
from mistaking them for their wild cousins.  It's very difficult to
tell a polecat or a mink from a domestic ferret when all you've seen
is a flash of fur disappearing into a burrow, and polecats and minks
are quite common in the less-developed areas of Europe and North
America.

Because of the similar names, domestic ferrets have also been confused
with their cousins the North American Black-Footed Ferrets, Mustela
nigripes.  Black-footed ferrets (BFFs) are wild remote relatives of
the domestic ferret.  They are an endangered species: the only BFFs
known to exist are in zoos or in a breeding program in Wyoming.
However, despite similar appearances, the BFF is not very closely
related to the domestic ferret.

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Top Document: Ferret FAQ [1/5] - About Ferrets and This FAQ
Previous Document: (3.1) What are ferrets? Do they make good pets?
Next Document: (3.3) Are ferrets legal where I live? Do I need a license?

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM