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National Ferret Day

National Ferret Day is "a day to educate the public to respect this lively and intelligent companion animal—the domesticated ferret." It "is also a time to focus on such ferret issues as welfare, care, nutrition and responsible ownership." Records of the holiday date back to 1995, but it may not have received "official recognition" until 2014. It appears to have been created by Carol Roche of New York and is promoted by the American Ferret Association today.

Ferrets are domesticated animals. It is believed they were bred from European polecats, or possibly from steppe polecats. They are in the Mustela genus and Mustelidae family, being related to minks, weasels, ermines, and wolverines. They are closely related to the black-footed ferret, which is an endangered wild animal and one of the rarest animals in North America.

Ferrets may have first been domesticated in Ancient Greece so that they could be used to hunt vermin. This practice spread throughout Europe. Later, they were used throughout Europe to hunt rabbits for human consumption. Ferrets were kept on ships so that rat populations could be decimated. The first ferrets to reach North America likely made their way by ship doing just this in the eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century, ferrets were regularly being used as pets in the United States. In the twentieth century, there once again was a push to use ferrets for vermin control, in barns and warehouses. But once chemicals started being used to kill rodents, the main role of ferrets once again was as a pet.

The fur of ferrets comes in numerous colors and the animals usually weigh between 1 and 5.5 pounds, are 8 to 18 inches in length, and have a tail that is about half their body length. Ferrets live in cages, but they need at least 4 hours each day to run freely outside of them. Some of this time should be spent interacting with humans. Still, ferrets may spend up to 18 hours sleeping. They are playful and quiet and can be trained to use a litterbox and respond to their name.

Ferrets have a slight musky odor and are carnivores. Male ferrets are called hobs and female ferrets are called jills, while their babies are called kits, and a whole group of ferrets is known as a business. Ferrets usually live to be 6 to 10 years old, but some may grow as old as 12. On National Ferret Day, we learn more about them and focus on their welfare, care, and nutrition, and on responsible ownership of them.

How to Observe National Ferret Day

One way to celebrate the day is to adopt a ferret. If you already have a ferret, there is much you can do for them today. Check them for fleas, trim their nails, and clean their cage. Schedule a vet checkup for them—they should have one once a year. Make sure they've had immunizations for rabies and canine distemper, and get them tested for the Aleutian disease virus. Check their ears for mites and wax. Brush their teeth with ferret toothpaste and a small animal toothbrush, and, if it's needed, have a professional clean their teeth. Make sure your ferret is getting at least 4 hours of time a day outside of their cage as well as human interaction, and make sure they are living in a temperature between 50 and 80 degrees and that they are getting the correct diet. You could also volunteer at a ferret shelter, and you could join, donate to, or learn more about ferrets at the American Ferret Association. Finally, there is no shortage of ferret videos online that you could watch.

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