Ferret Myths Debunked
Content reference from the 2015 legalizeferrets.org calendar theme featuring ’12 Ferret Myths’.
01. Ferrets are NOT wild animals.
There are wild ferrets, but our pet – the domestic ferret – has been domesticated for thousands of years. There are no examples of domestic ferrets surviving in the wild; they simply can’t live long without human assistance. There are wild ferrets, but our pet – the domestic ferret – has been domesticated for thousands of years. There are no examples of domestic ferrets surviving in the wild; they simply can’t live long without human assistance.
02. Domestic Ferrets are NOT dangerous pets.
Domestic ferrets are often classified as exotic pets, and some people lump tigers, lions, alligators, etc. as exotic pets. So it depends on your definition of “exotic”. We prefer to think of them as less common, but being uncommon doesn’t make them dangerous. Domestic ferrets are often classified as exotic pets, and some people lump tigers, lions, alligators, etc. as exotic pets. So it depends on your definition of “exotic”. We prefer to think of them as less common, but being uncommon doesn’t make them dangerous.
03. Ferrets do NOT pose a threat to the environment
The California Fish and Wildlife Department warns people that if ferrets are legal, they will prey on native wildlife. Yet despite repeated requests, state officials in California can’t name one instance of that ever happening.
04. Ferrets do NOT attack human babies
One report from the Department of Health Services actually states that ferrets bite in a machine gun fashion and suck the blood of human infants. While it’s true that anything with teeth can bite, ferrets are near the bottom of the Center for Disease Control’s list of biting animals. The guinea pig is the only pet deemed safer for children.
05. Ferrets do NOT threaten California agriculture
We actually read a report that ferrets could damage the cattle industry. Again, not a single example of a domestic ferret ever hurting a cow (or chicken or broccoli for that matter) can be produced.
06. We DO need to have more pets running around!
“We don’t need another pet running around.” This quote came from Fish and Game Commissioner President Jim Kellogg. It simply isn’t his right to say which domestic pets we can or can’t have.
07. Ferrets do NOT spread rabies
There is no rabies vaccine for ferrets in California– officials would not recognize the USDA approved vaccine for ferrets because ferrets aren’t legal. Ironically, One reason they cite for keeping ferrets illegal is the fact that there is not an approved rabies vaccine. Rabies in ferrets is extremely rare, and no person has ever contracted rabies from a ferret. Furthermore, testing from the US Department of Public Health Veterinarians in 1997 proved that ferrets cannot pass the rabies virus in their saliva. The ‘no rabies vaccine for ferrets in California’ statement is patently false.
08. Ferrets do NOT stink (sort of)
Well, yes they can. Any animal kept in a dirty cage is going to stink. The trick is to keep your ferret’s cage and bedding clean. This actually works to our advantage— Agricultural Checkpoint workers are told they can smell ferrets in a car so they don’t search as thoroughly as they might.
09. Ferrets are NOT nocturnal animals
One neat thing about ferrets is that they will adapt their schedule to match yours. They want to be active when you are around, but experience shows that midafternoons are not their most active time.
0. Ferrets are NOT prolific breeders
Ferrets have an unusual husbandry: both male and female ferrets have to be in season. If a female enters estrus and is not bred, she will die. An intact male ferret will smell so bad that few people would want them in the house. Therefore, there is very little backyard breeding of ferrets. Most come from large breeders and are already spayed or neutered when they are sold at the pet store.
11. Ferrets do NOT kill animals (or kill more than they can eat)
This is a logical extension of the “ferrets in the wild” fallacy. Organizations that have animal shows for education that include domestic ferrets are required to say that ferrets kill their more than they need to feed. However, since there are no domestic ferrets in the wild, this statement falls flat.
12. Ferrets are NOT rodents
Oh, I hate this one (not that there’s anything wrong with rodents). Ferrets are mustelids: a family that includes otters, badgers, weasels, martens, ferrets, minks and wolverines. Our ferrets are the only domesticated members of this family.