Message Number: FHL3616 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Ann Barzda
Date: 2008-01-18 19:07:38 UTC
Subject: Re: [ferrethealth] so many ferrets

While this is interesting, it is now outside the scope of ferret health, so I won't be posting anymore comments on this discussion after this, unless Sukie oks it. :-) Be happy to continue the discussion off-list, if anyone wants.

Ask Bob C - Domestication, as you describe, does indeed emphasize juvenile behaviors, which includes group compatibility as opposed to the solitary behavior seen in their wild cousins, as well as a whole host of behavior and physical changes (not all for the better in my opinion). Most of the behaviors humans have bred/trained into companion animals are extensions or modified natural behaviors. Bob has written extensively on this, as have many other researchers into companion animals.

While YOU all may be discussing neutered animals, I have INTACT animals, and I have critters that are bred back to polecats and to ferrets that were used for hunting, thus their instinctual behaviors ARE much more like behaviors seen in polecats in a natural setting. I often joke it is "Wild Kingdom" in my house at times, as their behaviors are so naturalized.

You are very lucky not to have more than a tiff, more than once I've had to separate them because of poop and blood flying. I have one or two feisty females who will accept the members of their family group, but will hunt and destroy any other intruders. The whole males - will fight each other to the death if necessary, though usually one will surrender and flee before that time - the problem in a house or a ferret area is that there is not enough space for the loser to flee and be safe from the winner. The stress on both males is intense and they tend to lose weight, fur, etc. I've learned to keep them separate - to the point I had to dedicate one cage and one pen to one male only to prevent his stress increasing when he even smelled another.

So, my point was not to get in a discussion about this, just to mention that polecats are solitary animals, ferrets can revert to solitary behaviors, they are NOT pack animals by nature, however humans are able to modify that behavior to suit our needs. While it's nice for them to have company (and yes, I think my family groups are happier than the singles), it's not necessary, and if a human can give the ferret enough love and attention, singles can do just as well as those in a group.

Becky at Shady Pines <> wrote:
The ferrets as they exist now, the animals we keep as pets, never existed in
the wild. We have bred into them behaviors and colors and genetic issues
that they didn't necessarily have in the wild. These are not wild animals.
They are also not intact.

Also, I am reporting on what I've seen in a group that has varied from 2 to
23 animals. I have never found a single one who didn't fall into the pecking
order (without being beaten up!) within the first day or two after coming
out of quarantine. It may not make sense with the way wild ferrets and
polecats live, but it's what I observe in animal after animal after animal.
They are not territorial beyond quick tiffs, and I'd really be reluctant to
call that territorial, as it shifts to whatever place they think is
desireable at the time.


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