Bolton Ferret Welfare

Harry Polecat

by Dr June McNicholas

Are polecat ferrets really more active and mischievous than their paler brethren? Take our Harry for example. He eats like a horse but is as thin as a rake, probably because he's on the go all the time. He's faster than our other ferrets, plays harder and sleeps less. The others have to form a relay team to 'hand over' to the next one when Harry's worn them out. He can scale almost impossible surfaces to get on to window sills, kitchen work tops and table tops. He leaps like a pine marten and hoardes like a squirrel. Watches, rings, keys, pens etc (tastefully mixed with bits of food) disappear down the sofa, under rugs or into the cutlery drawer (which he opens from the inside, having climbed in through the back of the cupboard). His 'fight' with a box of 80 tea bags, left me thinking that one of us ought to be on Prozac. Weeks later we were still finding tea leaves! His attitude towards house plants is psychopathic - a source of occasional domestic dispute when hubby finds treasured cuttings transplanted down the back of the armchair. When he's not wreaking havoc in the kitchen or the conservatory, Harry challenges us to battle by pawing the ground like a bull, chases us and tries to bolt the dogs.

But does this hyperactive gremlin transfer his energy to working or racing? Hardly! The only thing known to halt him in his tracks is a racing tube, which renders him immobile and awestruck. As for working, never mind the ferrets doing their stuff quickly and efficiently below ground, there's Harry, popping up, dancing and chuckling and chasing his tail like a complete fruitcake. Perhaps he thinks the rabbits will die laughing.

He's exasperating, exhausting and totally nuts. Being 'Harried' has taken on a new meaning in our family. But for all that, Harry's a kind ferret with a superb temperament, happy to be with anyone who doesn't mind being mugged. Typical polecat or loveable rogue? He's certainly a character.


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