I suggest April 2, National Ferret Day, should be a national smell-o-day. Yes, it’s true, as members of the same family as skunk, badgers, and weasels, ferrets do have a certain odor about them. They are active and fun: the very definition of a party animal.
The European ferret (Mustela putorius furo) is the domesticated form of the European polecat. While the specific history of the species’ domestication is a matter of conjecture, what is known is that European ferrets have been domesticated for more than 2,000 years. They were originally domesticated to assist with vermin control, but for hundreds of years have served as companion animals. Pet ferrets are not a new thing.
Like all pets, they’re a responsibility, and ferret owners need to know what they’re getting into. But, that’s true if you adopt any animal. All animals are different from one another, each with their own needs.
With their flexible backbones, ferrets can get into small spaces when they’re out and about. They shouldn’t be allowed to wander around the house without adult supervision. These curious guys can be their own worst enemies, but they’re positively entertaining to watch and to interact with. And just like with any pet, you’ll need to make a commitment to providing regular veterinary care for your ferret.
However, for reasons that make no sense, ferrets remain illegal in California. The defense is that ferrets can get outside and create colonies (as community cats do) and threaten other animals, wildlife, and/or farm animals. However, there’s absolutely no data to substantiate this.
Except Hawaii, ferrets are legal in all other states, and there is no record of ferret colonization anywhere in the U.S. Ever. There is also no evidence of ferrets that do get out having any impact whatsoever on wildlife or farm animals.
Domestic ferrets are not well equipped to live outdoors. They have greatly lost their hunting ability, and, between cars and climate, they’re unlikely to survive before they starve. As for colonizing, about 99 percent of all purchased ferrets are already spayed or neutered, making it impossible for them to reproduce.
In my opinion, this is just stubborn, crazy California politics. It’s ironic, because when the ferret craze first occurred in the 1970’s, like many national trends, Californians jumped on board. Despite ferret ownership being outlawed, there are likely more ferrets in California, by far, than in any other state.
Most officials in California look the other way, and the law is rarely enforced. And while law enforcement doesn’t typically go door-to-door searching for ferrets, there are still some that are confiscated each year.
Legalize Ferrets is a group attempting to change the California law. Please help them to do so.