Posted: February 1, 2010, 5 a.m. EST
The following excerpt is from the book Ferrets Underfoot by Kate Woods, published by Hedgerow Press.
Field Guide To Domestic Ferrets
The Domestic Ferret: Order Carnivora, family Mustelidae — weasels, essentially. More specifically Mustela furo, or putorius, or putorius furo, depending on your expert. Scientific names are so much more precise that common names — if the scientists would stop arguing over them. Putorius makes them a domesticated variety of the European polecat, while furo gives them their own species to hang out in.
Common Names: “Trouble” “Hey, you! Get out of there!” “You monster”
Field Marks: Distinctive sea serpent shape. Frequently seen wearing dark mask in a futile attempt to escape being identified with their crimes.
Similar species: Sometimes totally unwarranted comparisons are made with rats. The only similarities are that they are both small, scurrying creatures with pointy noses, that hide in holes, chew wiring, and generally make a nuisance of themselves around human habitations.
Food: Raisins, socks, butterscotch lifesavers, soap, Velcro, remote controls, slugs, erasers, green peppers, yams, raisins, raisins, raisins. It is recommended to get some meat into these supposedly carnivorous creatures, but this is unlikely to be as popular as raisins and socks.
Mating Habits: Not for the squeamish and decidedly un-woman’s lib.
Habitat: A maze of plastic tubing, boxes, bags, usually found in the middle of living rooms.
Where found: Check the fridge. If not there, try any other place they could not possibly be.
Size: Will readily fit in a baguette bag, with just enough tail protruding for a handle. Males may be a tight fit in the rear. Females often fit the half-size baguette bag.
Voice: A strange chittering is sometimes heard, somewhere between the sound of a coffee percolator and a rusty hinge. Depending on speed and volume, it may signal alarm, excitement or total exasperation. Some ferrets wander about chittering to themselves for no apparent reason. Will squawk when stepped on. Noisy? Well, they do not vocalize often, but their travels about the house are usually made conspicuously audible by the scuffles, thumps, crashes, and other sounds of destruction that follow them.
Nest: Kitchen drawers, laundry hampers, rag boxes and similar spots.
Eggs: As many as possible. Yolks only please.