Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Business Of Ferrets


Apparently, there's an underground network of ferrets in New York City. Which seems odd. Prairie dogs, I could understand.

The ferrets are illegals, and hide out in untold numbers in apartments all over the city, awaiting amnesty. The mayor has proposed lifting the citywide ban on ferrets, which delights ferret fanciers but has some residents worried about a mass weaseling. Ferret owners bristle at the notion that their pets are weasels, even though they are. Their fancy name is Mustela putorius, meaning stinky weasel. They're definitely not rodents. They have some things in common with rodents, just as we do, but they're way more tubular. In fact a good ferret can be stretched out to nearly five feet and only an inch in diameter, but only if you aren't going to use it for anything afterwards.

You can't always take everything a ferret fancier says to the bank and cash it. Some of them like to claim that the ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate the ferret, but that's because the Egyptians had a lot of cachet, and ferret people like to imagine their furry friends posing sidewise against a backdrop of pyramids and gold; and the fact that there are no ferrets, drawings of ferrets, or remains of ferrets in the whole geographical region just makes them all the more mysterious. Nevertheless, ferrets are domesticated and have been for thousands of years. In most places, they were used for--sshhh!--hunting wabbits. I'm not sure how it worked without a retractable leash. Way back in 1390, in England, there was even a law prohibiting people from wabbiting with a ferret unless they owned a substantial amount of land. If you owned a lot of land, of course, you could do anything you wanted.

Mustela putorius is indeed a little stinky in the anal region, although not to the extent its cousin the skunk is, and they're crepuscular and obligate carnivores. This means they sleep all day and then come to life right around beer thirty, and they eat nothing but meat. Well, people are frequently drawn to pets that resemble themselves.

New York City prohibits the owning of a number of different kinds of animals, including rhinoceroses because of the stomping issue, and ferrets because of the biting--same reason dogs and cats are illegal in every state. But there's hope. A group of ferrets is called a "business." Perhaps with the new Republican wave, ferret fanciers can anticipate a nationwide deregulation.

32 comments:

  1. Very funny. I hope no one tries that stretch theory.

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    1. Taken to extremes, it's called String Theory.

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  2. Egad, I can just see them taking over New York. At least you do not have to worry about them eating your Doritos The trouble with humans is they get bored with many pets and then toss them out into the city where they survive quite nicely.

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    1. According to ferret fanciers, they'd never make it there. Or anywhere.

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  3. Just looking at that soulful expression in the first photo, and wondering why Hawkeye Pierce thought "ferret face" was an insult.

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    1. Yeah, he should've picked something a lot pointier, right?

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  4. I wonder if they would compete with rats in NYC? I would think the rat union might be a little upset about it, though.

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    1. Now I'm visualizing little concrete paw shoes.

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  5. Ferrets reek. They're so cute, but that smell! And this is coming from someone who has three mature bucks (goats) on her property.

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    1. So it doesn't help that their asses are so far away from the front end? I guess not. And you probably (I can't be more certain than that) don't keep goats inside on your sofa.

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  6. I like furry cute things as much as the next person and probably more, but ferrets make me uneasy. They move uncannily like a snake. Apologies in advance to any ferret owners out there. And snake owners, too - sorry!

    Love the bit about rhinoceroses! (There, that might keep the rhino owners happy, at least.)

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    1. Love them all you want--if you're in New York City, you're not allowed to have one. And you are forgiven your biases, as long as you love salamanders.

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    2. Of course I do. Who wouldn't?

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  7. I think at least two of my brothers are ferrets. Thank you for explaining them to me.

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    1. No, I think you're the one who needs to come up with an explanation. For us.

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    2. Dedicated carnivores who insist that vegetables only use is as a garnish to make the meat look even better.
      Smelly.
      Able to weasel out of very tight corners (literally and figuratively).
      As nocturnal as they can manage.
      Able to give a very nasty bite (literally, but more often metaphorically).

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    3. Oh, my freakin' Lord. Thank for that. I was hoping my comment wasn't rhetorical. Please, now, tell us you have other brothers, and maybe sisters.

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    4. One other brother. With whom I laugh. Often.

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    5. Not done yet. What's the birth order?

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    6. I am the youngest. By a long way. The family pomposity gene was completely exhausted by the time the brother with whom I laugh and I came into the picture. Fortunately.

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  8. "...only if you aren't going to use it for anything afterwards."
    Made me lol after 11 p.m. Relaxed; will sleep well now.

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    1. Vanilla, I always really appreciate it when someone picks out the best line. And that was it! Sleep tight.

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  9. Hunting rabbits with ferrets involves two people. First find the rabbit burrow and the escape outlets. At night when the rabbits are all home, one person covers the escape outlet with a large hessian sack, if there are more than one escape the others are blocked off with rocks. At the entrance, the ferret is let loose to scare the rabbits who then rush out of the escape tunnel and get caught in the hessian sack. While the sack holder is tying off the bag of rabbits, the first person rushed to the escape tunnel and catches his ferret in a second sack. My step brother had six ferrets and made quite a bit of pocket money selling rabbits which my mum had gutted and cleaned. He sold the pelts too.
    The most important part is to never forget the 'knacky twine'. This is a length of strong string tied around the pants at ankle level so the ferret does not run up your pants and bite you in the 'knackers'.

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    1. Let me say right now that I love learning from other people who may or may not be paid educators. And let me further say that in six-seven years of writing this nonsense, I daresay I have never yet had a comment I enjoyed more than this one. Are you actually reporting in from the fourteenth century? I did not ever expect to learn how a wabbit is ferreted out. And here, merely by being your trusty clownish narrator, I have learned. I cannot thank you enough. I mean it.

      Meanwhile, given your immediate heritage, I trust I do not need to tell you about the sport of ferret-legging, which definitely involves knacky-twine (although I did not know what to call it) to keep your ferret IN your trousers for as long as you can manage to keep it in. Other random notes from ferret-legging: at least one of the current ferret-legging champions prefers to wear white trousers so that the full extent of blooding by ferret can be displayed.

      Thank you again. Bless yore heart.

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    2. For my American friends, I now learn that Hessian sack is a burlap sack.

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    3. I did know about ferret-legging, though I've never seen it and don't wish to. Ouch.

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  10. If your ferret is awake for more than five hours you should see a doctor.

    The real scary problem in New York City is the rats. New York actually employs rat catchers because the population is out of hand.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. I read somewhere that we solved our excess rat problem with a good garbage collection service, or something. Now I can't remember what we did. But under normal circumstances rats do not breed overmuch. Ratcatcher. Now there's a job.

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  11. I have seen where people needing to run cable through underground tubes have trained ferrets to carry a lead line from one end to the other. In Texas, I think.

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    1. I'll bet you could get them to fish wire for you in your house, too. Might lead to some interesting results though. Flip on the light switch and the radio goes on...

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  12. "Eneft said!" Ha. I see what you did there.

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