All About Ferrets


This month, we’re taking a step back for the summer and taking a general look at what ferrets are – the history, the family, their behaviour and some of the FAQs from non-ferret parents – AKA non-farents.

I did a talk a while back about keeping ferrets as pets. One of the biggest misnomers is that ferrets are are wild animals and not domesticated pets. I was once asked why I’d keep a wild animal as a pet? I replied that I didn’t know because ferrets aren’t wild animals. And that was one of the reasons I did the talk – to inform people.

A history

In Europe, they were domesticated for several thousand years. They were brought to Britain by the Romans who wanted them to catch the rabbits for meat. They brought the rabbits over too! The Romans created ‘pillow mounds’ – artificial rabbit warrens as a great supply of rabbit meat. It’s something we still do today – not with pillow mounds, but we do use ferrets to flush out rabbits.

They came over as a domesticated animal. You’ll never see a ferret in the wild. What you would see is a feral ferret or a stray ferret. They don’t really do very well in the wild because they’re not used to it. They’re no longer built for the wild side of life.

Ferrets are the grand babies, (several times removed), of the European Polecat. Several thousand years ago polecats were taken captive, bred and domesticated. In many biological ways, they’re still quite close to their polecat cousins, the major difference being the temperament of ferrets to be social and want/need human interaction.

Throughout the middle ages, ferrets were quite fashionable animals. There are some paintings in the 16-17th centuries with noble people with ferrets on their shoulders. There’s been a lot of debate over the years whether these were actually stoats or albino ferrets but there is a lot of documentary evidence that ferrets were popular back then.

More recently

During the First World War they were employed to lay telephone cables. Even today there are ferrets working for companies like BT to help with jobs like cable laying – they’re trained to fertle their way through pipelines and carry cable with them.

So there’s tonnes of history around ferrets. And it’s a far cry from a lot of people’s assumptions that they’re ‘horrid, smelly, bitey things’. I think that stemmed from the fact that in the 70s and 80s they were kept as working animals and they weren’t handled as much, or looked after as a pet. Quite often they weren’t neutered which leads to them being smelly. And yes, they can be ‘horrid, smelly, bitey things’, but that’s because they’re aren’t being treated properly!

We’re working to change people’s perceptions.

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More to explore

Blue Ferret Boarding: Ferret content

At Blue Ferret Boarding we’ve worked really hard to create content that helps you to live with, love and cherish your fertle friends. So I wanted to talk about in this last week of the year was how have you found this year for you and our Blue Ferret content?

Blue Ferret Boarding: Harnesses

We’re talking all about the ferrety items we have listed in our shop at the moment – in case you need any more ideas for fertle Christmas presents!

Blue Ferret Boarding: Ferret Products

Last week I talked a little bit about Blue Ferret Boarding as a business and showed you a little bit about WD oil that we sell. This week I just wanted to talk a little bit about more about some of the things that we sell in our shop. Have a look – it’s a one-stop-shop for everything you need for your ferret and we’re adding new things all the time.

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