Interesting Facts About Ferrets: Perform “Weasel War Dance”

Ferrets are fascinating, adventurous creatures that are gaining popularity as pets all over the world. They are endlessly interesting creatures with a long history of hunting, manufacturing airplanes, and participating in one of the most bizarre blood sports in the world.
Ferret is domesticated variety of European polecat. This small mammal belongs to the weasel family. Genetic evidences suggest that ferret has been domesticated 2500 years ago with the goal to facilitate hunting of rabbits.
Even though this practice is obsolete in most parts of the world, ferrets are still very popular and often used for vermin control and in the biomedical researches all over the world. Aside from that, ferrets are frequently kept as pets (especially for the past 50 years). They are third most popular type of pets (after cats and dogs) in the USA.
In this article, we will share with you some interesting and surprising facts about Ferrets.
1. Ferret performs “weasel war dance” when it is excited. It leaps into the air and sideways and collides with nearby objects. This behavior is usually accompanied with clucking noise and it represents invitation for play.
2. Ferrets were used to facilitate spreading of wires in the airplanes, laying of cables in tunnels and wiring of the Large Hadron Collider because of their ability to easily pass through narrow passages.
3. Scientists used the frozen sperm from a Black-Footed Ferret who had been dead for 20 years to successfully produce offspring. The Black-Footed Ferret is a critically endangered species.
4. Babies are white colored and very small at birth. They depend on the mother’s milk until the age of 3 to 6 weeks. At the age of 3 months, young ferrets are ready for the independent life. They reach sexual maturity at the age of 6 months.
5. Ferret is social creature. It lives in family groups called “business”. Groups of ferrets are territorial. They use scent glands to mark their territory and recognize members of the same group.
6. Ferret has been introduced to New Zealand during the 19th century to reduce population of rabbits. Unfortunately, ferrets soon switched to the ground nesting birds and they still pose significant threat for the survival of many native species of birds.
7. Scientific name of ferret, “Mustela putorius furo”, means “smelly little thief” because of the musky smell produced in the anal glands and natural instinct to steal and hide various things.
8. A female ferret can die if they don’t find a mate during the heat. Remaining in heat for too long creates estrogen toxicity and the bone marrow stops producing new red blood cells. They essentially die of ‘the horn’.
9. The world record for keeping a pair of ferrets in your pants is 5 hours and 30 minutes.
10. Ferret legging is a thing. There is a “sport” called ferret legging and it is horrifying. The popular endurance game starts with a man with loose fitting pants. The ends are tied shut, and several ferocious ferrets are placed inside. The belt closes the top of the pants, and the game begins. The angry ferrets will bite and claw to try to get out and the player must endure the pain as long as he can. The current record is over 5 hours.
11. Scientists fiddled with a ferret’s brain and made a startling discovery. In the 1990s, neuroscientists at MIT reconfigured baby ferrets’ brains so that the critters’ retinas were connected to their auditory cortexes.
They expected the ferrets to go blind, but miraculously, they readjusted so that the auditory cortex worked like the visual cortex; they could see using the part of the brain normally used for hearing.
This discovery showed that the brain is adaptable and makes use of what’s available. ”It’s just waiting for signals from the environment and will wire itself according to the input it gets,” said Dr. Jon Kaas, a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University.

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