The Ferret (Mustela putorius furo)
Long before the cat made its entry as a domestic animal the ferret was a popular member of the family, even in the time of the Egyptians. It kept the house clear from mice, rats, snakes, frogs and other small predators. Why the cat took its place and the ferret was used to hunt is still unknown. The albino form with its white to off-white fur and red eyes is the original form.
It is bloodthirsty and has sharp teeth. It belongs to the species of polecats common in North America. Thanks to its slim and movable body it can reach hidden nests in high walls, deep underground, or man-built chicken coops. It kills everything that comes between its teeth.
So, why does modern mankind keep the ferret as a domestic animal? The fact is that the ferret can be trained easily. Aside from their 17-hour beauty sleep, they can be very playful and funny and nothing reminds their owner of its danger. In some countries, like Switzerland, a license is needed to hold them which includes certain requirements like min 2 animals, a secluded area of min. 8 sqm, a cat toilet, a sleeping area, climbing possibilities, and fixed bowls for food and drinks. We wonder how the local owners would react to that…
On Fuerteventura, the ferret is exclusively used to hunt hare. It will be sent in the furrows, covered with a mouth protection and will chase the rabbit out. The hunting dog – mostly a Podenco Canario – and the hunter will do the rest.
Superficially the ferret does not suffer during the hunting, but it does outside the hunting season when it stays in the small cages, made out of steel rods, aluminium walls, and with no possibility to climb or any distraction. The result is that the females stay hot or show a pregnancy simulation. It is better to castrate them if the owner has no plans to breed. A positive consequence is that the rather strong smell disappears and the males stop marking their territory.
Ferrets should not eat raw poultry due to the risk of salmonella infection. Absolutely forbidden is pork. Today specific food is available at the vet and cat food with a high content in iron is OK, next to raw beef. It is advisable to chip and vaccinate your animal. And don’t even think about stuffing them down your trousers!!!!!