Thursday, 5 January 2012

Some things you may or may not know about ferrets.

What is a ferret?
Firstly, lets clear up one little thing. Ferrets are NOT rodents! They are carnivores and belong to the Mustelidae family. Rodents have incisors that continually grow which they use for gnawing, whereas ferrets have canines that they use to puncture food and manipulate objects (such as toys). They would find most rodents very tasty though! 
Ferrets have very good hearing and can hear high-frequency sounds. Their large nose provides them with an excellent sense of smell. Add to these traits their slender, flexible bodies and it's no wonder why they are used for a special type of hunting called ferreting.
Female ferrets are considerably smaller than the males and can weigh from 1-2-1/2 lbs. The males tend to weigh between 2-5 lbs.
Ferrets can live for anything from 6 to 9 years, with some records of ferrets living for over 10 years!

'Stop! Thief!' and other ferret behaviours.
Ferrets are well known for their love of stashing desirable objects, in fact the word 'ferret' comes from the Latin meaning 'Thief'. They can find even the most ordinary of household objects highly desirable and will stash them in a 'secret' hiding place. For example my ferrets love my husbands work gloves. They kept taking them from his bag and trying to hide them, so one day he gave them an old pair, which started the mother of all play fights! They play tug of war over them and steal each others gloves from their individual hiding spots. My suggestion would be that if there is anything that you do not want to be 'stashed', remove it from reach!

They love to dig and to try and squeeze into small spaces, which is why if you have indoor ferrets then any rooms that they will be loose in will need to be proofed. Make sure that they cannot climb to great heights, get stuck in a tight space, encounter dangerous objects or get themselves into other dangerous situations.

Dooking is the term used for when ferrets emit a chirping or 'dook dook' sound when they are happy or excited. This is commonly heard when they display the 'dance of joy'.

The ferret dance of joy consists of ferrets bouncing off the walls (somtimes literally!) They will jump around from side to side, roll on the floor, spin around and they may dook and have they mouths slightly open. This dance means exactly what is says, it is performed when a ferret is very happy and excited. This can be confused with the war dance which has a very different meaning.

The ferret war dance is displayed when a ferret is saying 'back off'. They arch their backs, puff their fur and tails, dance from side to side and back away. They may also hiss or scent in defence.

Ferrets love to play fight with each other, you will see them pounce on one another, play hide and seek, roll each other by the scruff and chase each other. It really is fun to watch. Just make sure you listen out for any screams which would indicate that they really are fighting.

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