Ferrets Essay, Research Paper
There are many different kinds of ferrets. There are three main ones: The black-footed, common, and domestic ferrets. There are many other breeds, formed by different kinds mating with each other. There is the polecat-ferret, black-common, and domestic-wild polecat breeds and many others.
The gestation period of the common ferret is 42 days. This means that 42 days after the ferrets mate, a young will be born. The female ferret is called a gill. The male is a hob, and a young is called a kitten. The black-footed gill has two groups of six to nine young annually. Females give birth to young in late spring or early summer. Gills usually give birth in prairie dog burrows. The black-footed gills usually have three to five kittens. In the fall the kittens travel long distances. The scarcity of prairie dog colonies is a factor that may be responsible for the long distances in travel. They sometimes get hit by cars or trucks on their way.
Black-footed ferrets are an important, but not large, part of the ferret family. They are about 20 inches long with a tail about five inches long. They normally weigh about two pounds. The black-footed ferret resembles the common ferret in many ways, but has black on the tip of its tail and on its feet. Its slender body is brown. It has a long neck that it uses to peer out of prairie dog holes. It looks like a mink in its shape, but other than that and it’s tracks, this yellow-brownish animal has no other connection to the mink. The black-footed ferret’s hind print is about two inches long and one and a half inches wide. It’s longer and narrower than the mink’s. Ferrets have five toes on each foot with claws on each one. The black mask around its eyes has an interesting contrast to its white face.
There is a national park in South Dakota where you can go to see these wonderful animals. It is called Windcave National Park and it offers the best opportunity to see wild ferrets. They usually live in dry prairies. They try to live in or by a prairie dog town to have a good source of food nearby, which is usually in the Great Plains or the Western U.S.
If a black-footed ferret wants a burrow, it doesn’t make his own. It steals one, then makes a lovely dinner of the prairie dog. It usually invades burrows in the nighttime because prairie dogs have bad eyesight, and ferrets have excellent eyesight. If it’s dark, the prairie dog doesn’t know it’s coming. If it can’t see it until its next to him, about to eat it, the ferret has a good chance of getting it. If a prairie dog catches sight of a ferret, it darts underground. The ferret stalks the burrow and lunges for the prairie dog when it comes up to the surface. If it stays below, the ferret slithers down the dark tunnel. After he eats his prey, he buries the remains.
If a ferret decides to live in the former prairie dog burrow, it makes the entrance bigger and digs more rooms. You can tell a ferret is in a burrow, not a prairie dog, if you look at the ground around the entrance to the burrow. If there are no signs of pounded down earth, then that often identifies the occupancy of a black-footed ferret. (Prairie dogs like to pound on the ground to make it sturdy) Another way to tell if a ferret is in residence, is that after it takes the prairie dogs burrow, it pops its head up often, scanning its territory for other prairie dogs or ferrets.
When prairie dogs are scarce, ferrets will eat mice, gophers, squirrels, birds, eggs, lizards, and other small reptiles. Since the prairie dog has almost disappeared, so has the black-footed ferret. Its original range went up to Alaska, but with all the killing of prairie dogs, it’s reduced its range considerably, and almost driven it to extinction. Ferrets are not allowed in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Georgia, and California. They used to be forbidden in Alaska also, but the law has been changed. The Red Data book lists it as an endangered species. Wildlife Service lists it as one of the top ten most wanted species in North America. Do you know what the truth is? The black-footed ferret is the most endangered animal in North America! Restoring its population is being attempted in the West, especially South Dakota.
Common ferrets live in Europe. It is a domestic form of the wild polecat. Its fur is usually yellowish-white. Its eyes are normally red. It fits its small body into a burrow, which it uses as a nest. Also called fitchet, its a member of the mustelidae family. Some other members of this family are weasels, minks, martens, fishers, skunks, wolverines, otters, and badgers. They are very bold and eat mice and rats.
Domestic ferrets are slinky, furry creatures. They are about the size of a large rat and their noses look like those of an anteater. They eat dries cat food. One adult ferret can eat five to eight pounds of food each month. Males are about 16 inches long and weigh 3-5 pounds and females are about 14 inches long and weigh 1 and a half to 3 pounds. When getting a ferret, it should be about a few weeks old. They live for about 8-11 years. Domestic ferrets should usually drink water. Cow’s milk can lead to diarrhea but goat’s milk is okay. They have very poorly developed sweat glands, making them unable to handle temperatures over 75 . Ferrets’ eyes are usually pink.There are ten different kinds of main domestic ferrets:
Sable : Looks like a raccoon, and can be light or dark. Its fur is golden and they have a definite mask over their face, Their nose is black and their face is short and broad.
Black-Eyed White : A color people wanted for years. Little of them are here now, but later kits will be released.
Red-Eyes White : Frequently referred to as albino, which some are and some aren’t. It can be white or golden, with pink noses. They have a broad and short head.
Silver-Mitt : Its underfur is white or off-white. Its guard hair is black and white, and its feet are pure white as is its tummy which looks like a bib. His eyes are black or deep burgundy.
Sterling silver : It’s like the silver-mitt only there is more white in its guard hair, so it looks paler than silver-mitt.
Spotted : Only a few of these have been “spotted”. Spots are usually on stomach, but sometimes they are on it’s back. Spotted kittens have markings on their faces.
White-footed Sable : It’s like the standard sable, but it has four white feet and a white throat patch. Her nose is black.
Butterscotch : Its underfur is like that of the sables, but its mask is butterscotch, as is its nose.
White-footed Butterscotch : This species is relatively rare. Like the butterscotch, only it has white feet and white throat patch like white-footed sable,
Cinnamon : This species it truly beautiful. This new color is extremely rare. The underfur is white or off-white, and the guard hair is the rich red-brown color of cinnamon.
Domestic ferrets must be neutered. For males, this is to decrease aggressiveness and for females is it to save their lives. Female ferrets must also be sprayed otherwise they will develop serious diseases and they could die. All ferrets have an odor. If you buy one, you can either learn to live with it or get it descented. Domestic ferrets can catch colds just like humans. They can get a cold from human, or give a cold to humans. They have enough sense on their own to know to drink plenty of liquids and get much rest until recovered. Their temper is midway between dogs and cats. They are not as dependent as dogs but more than cats.
They have very odd hours of sleeping. They go to sleep around 11:00 PM and wake up around 1-3 AM. Domestic ferrets are social animals. They like to have toys, attention, and other ferrets. Ferrets are so dependent on humans that they cannot live more than a few days without human care. They love to run around and this is their main way of exercising. They also like to crawl around, especially if they are in an unfamiliar place. This is their main way of exploring. They are sometimes friendly, sometimes not. Occasionally they run away, but they very rarely bite. Kittens can get overexcited and nip too hard, but they are mostly playful and curious.
Ferrets make a squeaking noise if they are happy or exited. If they want to play, throw a ball and they will fetch it, or dangle a string and they will jump for it. You have to be very careful to make sure its fed, it has fresh water, and it doesn’t crawl away. If it crawls into a pipe or other small area, it could get stuck and die. If you’re really interested in your ferret, then it will play with you for up to 5 hours. They are very good for companions, and if you love them they will love you back. Domestic ferrets are cute, playful, and lovable, but they take a lot of money, love, time, and hard work.