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National Ferret Day


Today is National Ferret Day. Celebrate by finding a gap no one else can see, and sliding through – that’s what ferrets can do.

Indeed Ferrets are popular pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association 2012 Pet Ownership & Demographic Sourcebook, there are 748,000 European ferrets as pets. This doesn’t count the number of ferrets (whatever that number is) in California, where they may be more popular than in any other state. However, no one can talk about owned ferrets in California  because ferrets are illegal there.

The presumed contention is that ferrets will get outside, and form feral colonies and impact public health, and threaten wildlife. However, in all other states (except Hawaii where ferrets are also illegal) this has never happened.

A ferret that somehow gets outside will likely die – unfortunately. The facts are that ferrets tend not to live in colonies like feral cats, and if they did they can’t possibly reproduce (since nearly all ferrets are spay/neutered). If they’re not hit by a car, plucked up by a bird of prey or taken down by a coyote, the poor animal will likely starve. Also unlike cats, their hunting skills are quite lame. Farmers contend the ferrets will kill heir chickens. Well, even if a ferret finds a chicken, it’s unclear the ferret would know what to do. In any case, ferrets are not attacking chickens in states where they are legally kept as pets. Another problem may simply be the weather; if it is too cold or too hot the ferret’s demise will be sped up.

Bottom line – feral ferrets don’t exist anywhere in the U.S.

Ferrets have somehow become a political issue in California, for reasons I can’t explain. And at least some of the state’s precious dollars in animal control goes to hunt down ferret owners. It’s all so crazy.

Legalize Ferrets is planning a ballot initiative to free our domestic ferrets from unnecessary and unfair regulation.

April 2 is National Ferret Day in the USA and California ferret lovers are using the occasion to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo at The goal is to raise $100,000 to pay petitioners to help get the California Legalization Initiative for Ferrets (CLIFF) on the ballot.

The original reason for ferrets being domesticated by human beings is uncertain, but it may have involved hunting. According to phylogenetic studies, the ferret was domesticated from the European polecat (Mustela putorius). Analysis of mitochondrial DNA suggests that ferrets were domesticated around 2,500 years ago, although what appear to be ferret remains have been dated to 1500 BC.  No matter, ferrets have been pets for a very long time.

Like all pets, these active little guys aren’t for everyone….They do have a certain odor about them, and they are curious by nature, and mischievous. They’re generally not advised for very small children. Ferrets have a wonderful sense of fun, and it’s suggested ferrets owners do best when they share that quality.

All in all, there’s no logical explanation, or any scientific backing whatsoever, that ferrets remain illegal.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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