Product Code: Info Small Mammal
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- Country of origin: Mustela putorius furo, the domestic ferret, has been domesticated for thousands of years, as long as the cat and dog. There are pictures in Egyptian tombs of ferret-like creatures on leashes. Domestic ferrets are biologically related to mink and weasels and to the black-footed ferret, a wild, weasel-like animal native to North America. All of these animals are called 'mustelids' because their anal glands secrete a strong smelling musk.
The first domesticated ferrets probably originated from captive breeding of wild polecats, which still exist in Europe and Asia. Ferrets are smaller than polecats, and although the two species can be cross-bred and produce hybrid babies, they are genetically different. After thousands of generations of domestication, ferrets have no inherent fear of man, and cannot survive without human aid. There are no wild ones anywhere.
Ferrets are much smaller and more agile than cats and can follow rodents into smaller holes. This was probably the reason people thought of catching polecats, breeding them, and keeping the friendliest ones in their homes and barns. About 300 years ago, the first ferrets worked their way to North America from Europe, controlling rodents on the ships of the early colonists. There are still a few ferrets on rat patrol in dairy barns and ships in Canada and the U.S. Although hunting with ferrets is illegal in America now, they have been used to hunt burrowing animals such as rabbits and groundhogs. The ferret does not usually kill the prey: it chases or frightens it out of the burrow where it is captured or killed by some other means. Occasionally ferrets are 'hired' to pull electric or telephone wires through long ducts too small for more conventional methods to be efficient.
- Characteristics:A ferret is a small mammal,their are long, slender animals. usually weighing less than 5 pounds. Females (jills) weigh 1.5 to 2 pounds at maturity and are much smaller than males (hobs), which usually weigh at least 3 pounds and occasionally grow as heavy as 7 pounds. The scientific name for the domestic ferret is Mustela putorius furo, which translates roughly into 'stinky little thief'! Ferrets are not rodents and are not even related to rodents. They are carnivorous animals (meat eaters) biologically similar to cats and dogs.
- life:The average ferret that is feed a good diet and receives regular veterinary care lives 6 or 7 years. Some live to be 8 or 9 and occasionally even older.
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