National Ferret Day: Ban on Domestic Ferrets in California is Absurd


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April 2 is National Ferret Day, a day to celebrate these entertaining companion animals which for a time were trendy pets. No longer being trendy is good news is that more people actually get ferrets who know what they’re getting. The bad news is that the state with the most pet ferrets is California. That’s bad news because unbelievably domestic ferrets remain illegal in California.

Sometimes pet ferrets there are confiscated, as if law enforcement doesn’t have better things to do.

So why are pet ferrets banned in California? No one can really answer because there is no logical answer.

The opinion from California Fish and Wildlife is that if a ferret gets outside, it will wreak havoc on the environment and breed with other ferrets and soon their will colonies as there are with domestic cats.

Here are problems with that argument:

  1. Domestic ferrets are spay/neutered as they are sold – therefore even if they find another outdoor ferret, there’s obviously no way to reproduce.
  2. Domestic ferrets don’t know how to hunt for food and will starve if lost outdoors (and this can happen quickly because they can’t survive for long without food).
  3. The California environment is not ferret-friendly, contributing to their unlikely survival.
  4. While concerns about rabid ferrets have been expressed, it should be a law that all pet ferrets are vaccinated for rabies. Since rabies data has been tallied there is not a single instance of a pet ferret transmitted rabies to a human.
  5. California Fish and Wildlife say their goals are to protect native wildlife (if ferrets die outside as described above, they’re not impacting wildlife or animals on farms) and to protect the public. There has never been a group of wild domestic ferrets living anywhere in the U.S. And if such a clan were to exist, humans would not be endangered.

No one knows exactly how long ferrets have been domesticated but analysis of mitochondrial DNA suggests that we may be going back 2,500 years. The DNA analysis also demonstrates a significant genetic difference between today’s domestic ferret and their wild polecat cousins which they were derived from and they are a very different species compared to rare American black-footed ferrets. The percent of genetic difference is statistically similar between the difference between humans and chimpanzees or the difference between dogs and wolves. Domestic ferrets are decidedly not the same as wild polecats or the endangered U.S. black-foot ferret any more than today’s pet Poodle is a wolf.

If the California Fish and Game Commission continues to insist domestic ferrets are wild, they ought to ban domestic cats – who might (unlike ferrets) successfully survive outside, and when they do, there’s no question that there’s an environmental impact. Of course, I am not advocating in any way that California outlaws cats. I am suggesting this assertion from California Fish and Game makes zero sense.

Ferrets are fun, albeit curious and sometimes rambunctious pets. They are social, and require your interactions – and outlets for their energy and curiosity.

Why is it important to change the California ferret ban? Currently, innocent animals are sometimes randomly confiscated. And veterinarians treat the animals in some secrecy. It’s a silly and an absolutely unnecessary game.

For more on ferrets in California, check out and support Legalize Ferrets.