Message Number: YG543 | New FHL Archives Search
From: RRC
Date: 2001-03-02 13:30:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Subject: Behavior question

>From: "Renee Rider" <riderr@m...>
>Subject: Re: Digest Number 26
>> Subject: Behavior question
>> stuffed animal, which is shaped like a ball. He will put it between
>> his front paws, and "scoot" backwards with it. He will do this all
>I have a male ferret (now about 2 years old) that does this. He is my only
>male ferret, and my only one that has done it.
>He takes his balls with the bells in them and scoots around backwards.
>I've noticed from the other replys that it seems to be only male ferrets
>doing this... Any one able to dispute that? If so... could it be a sexual

Both males and females do this, but it is unpredictable which ferret
will actually do it; some just seem to do it more than others. About a
third of my 15 ferrets do this regularly, and most of the rest do it
infrequently. I see no sexual differences in my group regarding the
activity (if anything, more of my females do this than the males).

This activity is part of the ferret's core behaviors for digging. When
black-footed ferrets, steppe polecats, European polecats, and ferrets
dig holes in the dirt, they do exactly the same thing with dirt that you
have described with the balls. The trait is so distinctive that one of
the ways you can confirm the presence of polecats and ferrets is by
looking for long "shoveled" areas outside burrows, where the little guys
have scooped up some dirt, held it like the balls, and then scooted
backwards away from the burrow. It creates a "gutter" of semi-packed
dirt, about the width of a ferret, with loose dirt on either side and at
the end.

If you get an opportunity to take your ferret outside and allow them to
dig (please use a figure-8 harness and leash; they can dig surprisingly
fast), you will see the little guys making the same type of ferret-tells
used by the Fish and Game to identify active BFF burrows. And you will
immediately recognize the 'ball-holding backwards scooting activity"
noticed in ferret play.

Bob C