By L. Vanessa Gruden
Posted: March 1, 2012, 2:50 p.m. EST
© Courtesy of Joshua and Theresa Sappenfield
Choosing the right name for a ferret can take seconds or days, depending on the inspiration.
Every ferret is an individual. All ferrets deserve a name as quirky and cute as they are.
When a ferret is surrendered to the Ferret Association of Connecticut shelter, its policy is to keep the ferret’s existing name unless the name is vulgar or insulting. But during our 20-plus years of operation, at least 30 percent of rescued ferrets arrive unnamed. That translates to nearly 450 names I’ve had to create, and I take pride in not using the same one twice. Where can you find similar inspiration?
Start by following some general guidelines: A ferret’s name should be short or easily shortened so the ferret can learn it easily. Make sure the name can’t be misinterpreted as something rude. Will you feel comfortable using the name in public? And be careful with human names; if you name your ferret after Grandpa Fred, it could be confusing, or you might get written out of the will if Grandpa finds it unflattering.
Avoid overused and banal names. Isn’t your ferret extra-special? I nearly went crazy trying to keep them straight when I had five (!) different Bandits this past summer. And there were three Brownies! Anytime a ferret is used in a book or film, it creates a wave of similarly named ferrets. For many years, The Beastmaster movie led to way too many Kodo and Podo’s. Rikki (after the mongoose in Rudyard Kipling’s poem Rikki Tikki Tavi) is overused, also. Will we see lots of Jaspers after the release of Alison Parker’s short film, Jake & Jasper?
Allowing your children to name pets can lead to unoriginal choices. Kids may think Snowball is the greatest name ever for a white ferret — because they haven’t already heard it 500 times. If you want to include your children in the choice of names, try twisting their suggestion into something distinctive. For example, in Japanese, Yukiko means "snow child.” You’ve kept the "snow” but found a charmingly different way to express it.
A ferret shelter often receives groups of unnamed animals, and for those I turn to a specific theme. You can also plan to name all of your ferrets (who has just one?) using one overall category. Star Wars or Disney characters can offer lots of options, or you can decide to always use Russian, Tibetan or Native American names.
Top 5 Ferret Names
After 20 years of running the Ferret Association of Connecticut ferret shelter, the following names emerged as the top five.
1. Bandit (hands-down winner!)
3. Snowy/Snowball/Snowflake, Boo/BooBoo/Bobo and Frank/Frankie/Francis (tie)
5. Rascal, Bear, Poto/Podo, Missy/Mitzi (tie)
Ferret Traits As Name Inspiration
I’ve named timid ferrets things like Milquetoast and Mork the Meek. One little ferret arrived so scared he just stood there, shaking. Thankfully, poor Boo grew out of his fear. Rowdy types have earned the names Pandemonium, Sheena (Queen of the Jungle) or Digby. Cuddles or Sweet Pea are naturals for ferrets with snuggly personalities. One of the most amusing names I’ve heard was Poco Dammit; I can only guess what kind of pesky ferret inspired that!
Are you stuck on wanting to recognize a ferret’s inclination to steal? How about real bandits like Bonnie, Clyde, Dillinger or Jesse James? Happy, Merry or Sherlock Holmes also embody common ferret characteristics.
Ferret Coat Colors As Names
A ferret’s coat color is another inspiration for naming. Names like Cinnamon and Cocoa are pretty well used. How about a similar but more out-of-the-ordinary moniker like Hershey, Cadbury or Nestle? Luna (goddess of the moon) would suit an albino or dark-eyed white ferret well. Explore other languages for interesting words: the German word for sable is Zobel. In Celtic, a female dark-haired elf is called Donella.
Geography-Inspired Ferret Names
One of our early ferret rescues was found in Putnam. He was an oldie who enjoyed following us around the room, so Put-Put suited him well. Did you know there’s a Terramuggus river? Neither did I, and when I learned it right when a foundling ferret arrived in the ferret shelter, a new name was born.
Puns For Ferret Names
A slight change of spelling can make a ferret name fun — for example, Hairy Potter. Sandy Paws arrived near Christmas, while No Harriet — surprise! — had adrenal disease.
Pop Culture Sources For Ferret Names
I’ve named ferrets after the characters in Glee. One group became John, Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko. And even politics can offer alternatives — who could resist calling a ferret Huckabee?
Mining Literature For Ferret Names
Children’s books, especially, are filled with memorable names. Peter Pan could also yield Wendy, Smee or Tiger Lily. Alice in Wonderland offers up Tweedledum and Tweedledee. If you have a favorite cartoon, find names that might fit your furry friend. Look for offbeat characters, such as Mordecai and Rigby from Cartoon Network. I’m amazed there aren’t more Fungos, from the only daily comic strip to occasionally feature a ferret, Darby Conley’s Get Fuzzy.
Holiday Ferret Names
Oh yes, I’ve had "reindeer” in the shelter. Fifth of May? Cinco, De and Mayo!
Celebrities As Ferret Name Inspiration
Who could resist a handsome sable called Clooney? And given a ferret’s fun-loving nature, comedian names fit well — Keaton or Chaplin, perhaps? One of my recent adoptees arrived on the Dalai Lama’s birthday, so I promptly christened him Tenzin Gyatso (the Lama’s formal name.) I hope His Holiness wouldn’t be offended.
Naming Ferrets After Foreign Names And Words
A wealth of interesting and adorable names can be found in other languages. Babette was an adorable little albino girl, while Pepita had lots of spunk. In Arabic, Habibi means "sweetheart,” while in Hopi Indian, the word for weasel is "pivane.”
Food Names For Ferrets
Food is a great muse! Types of candy — because ferrets are so sweet — like Gumdrop, Snickers or Twix are fun options. Taco was an oldie who’d lost most of the hair on his back – what little he had looked like lettuce sticking out from his sides. Miso and Edaname came to us so thin it looked like those famous Asian vegetarian specialties were all the poor things had ever been fed. But I’ve called ferrets Moo Shu, Lo Mein and Tofu, also. Cupcake had a wee bit of a biting issue when she arrived, so I chose a name I hoped she could eventually live up to. (She did!) Cute options include Twinkie, Oreo, Chai or Coolatta. Fluffy, pretty, white and beige Tiramisu is my most recent adoptee.
Check out the SmallAnimalChannel name page for more inspiration. It would be easy for all the options to overwhelm you now, but you are sure to find your perfect name for your perfectly wonderful new ferret friend.