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Domestic Ferret
Scientific classification
Trinomial name
Mustela putorius furo

A ferret can be any of several small, elongated carnivorous mammals belonging to the Mustelidae, which includes (among many species) the weasels, polecats[?], otters, and badgers. There is a rare and endangered North American polecat known as the Black-footed Ferret, but in general use a ferret is a Domestic Ferret (Mustela putorius furo), a creature first bred from the wild European Polecat[?] at least 2,500 years ago.

The initial purpose in the domestication of the ferret was almost certainly hunting. With their long, lean build and aggressive nature, they are very well equiped for getting down holes and chasing rabbits or other vermin out of their burrows. They are still used for hunting in some countries, including the United Kingdom and, particularly, Australia, where rabbits are a plague species and, despite the availability of a great deal of modern technology, the combination of a few small nets and a ferret or two remains very effective. They have also played a historical role in controlling household rats and mice, although the cat has generally been preffered for this task.

In most parts of the world, however, ferrets are simply kept as pets because they are often considered cute and require little maitenance. Ferrets are sometimes accused of being dangerous to small children but this is false - proportionally, ferrets do much less harm to children than dogs or cats.

Ferrets are very good at getting into holes in walls, cupboards, or behind household appliances, where they can be injured or killed by electrical wiring, fans, and other dangerous items. Fold-out sofas are very dangerous for them, since they will often climb inside the springs and then be squashed to death. For these reasons steps are often taken to "ferret-proof" a home before acquiring one as a pet. Ferret-proofing a house often involves removing items dangerous to ferrets and covering over any holes.

Ferrets can be fed with cat food, though their requirements for protein is higher than that of cats, which has to be taken into account by supplementing their diet with some protein source. One solution is to give them food designed for kittens, which has more protein than regular cat food. Also, food designed specifically for ferrets' dietary needs is available in some places. Ferrets usually have fondness for sweet, and raisins, banana, apple, nuts etc. can be offered as treats. While plant products can provide ferrets with some additional micro-nutrients and dietary variability, due to their relatively short gastro-intestinal tract they can not derive much energy out of them, and for that reason they should only be used as supplement, not replacement, for their regular diet.

Ferrets spend most of their time sleeping, but when awake they are very active, exploring their surroundings relentlessly. If kept in a cage, they should be let out daily to get exercise and satisfy their curiosity. Since ferrets are social animals, many ferrets are also very playful and will be happy to play with humans. "Play" for a ferret can involve hide-and-seek games, or some form of predator/prey game in which either the human attempts to catch the ferret or the ferret attempts to bite the humans' toes. Ferrets usually will not actually "bite" their human companions but instead gently grab a toe or finger in their mouth and roll around with it. When ferrets are worked up into a state of extreme excitement, they will perform the Weasel war dance, a frenzied series of sideways hops. Whenever ferrets are taken outdoors, it should be remembered that they will get into whatever holes they will find, including storm drains, and they should be supervised at all times, preferably kept in a harness leash.

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