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The Story Of Wild Animals:
 Story Of The Ferret

 Story Of The Chipmunk

 Story Of The Cavy

 Story Of The Marten

 Story Of The Lemur

 Story Of The Echidna

 Story Of The Mink

 Story Of The Wapi

 Story Of The Wolverine

 Story Of The Skunk

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Story Of The Ferret

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The ferret is one of the many animals that have given a word to the English language. The instinctive desire to follow burrowing animals is the most striking peculiarity of the ferret, and his ability as a rat-catcher and rabbit-hunter is well known. It is this trait which has resulted in the verb "ferret," meaning to investigate. Detectives ferret out crimes and build up the clues which result in the arrest of the criminal.

So wonderfully are these little creatures suited for the purpose of tracking the various burrowing animals, that man has taken one of them into use as his assistant, training it to follow rabbits and rats into their holes, and to drive them out, in order that he may kill them. Its long and slender body enables it to wind its way through the narrow passages which those animals dig in the ground, and so to, force them from. a position in which they would other-wise be quite secure.

In rabbit-catching the ferret is usually sent into the hole either muzzled or attached to a coil of string, by which it can be withdrawn. If allowed to enter a rabbit-hole unmuzzled, or without a string, ferrets are very likely to remain in such good quarters, and to slaughter the occupants one after another. The usual plan is to stop all the entrances to the burrows by means of small bag-like nets, in which the rabbits are caught when they bolt; but sometimes they are allowed to, bolt freely, and are either shot or coursed with dogs. In ferreting it is essential that those who, are present should be perfectly silent, as otherwise the rabbits will prefer to, be eaten alive by the ferret in their holes rather than attempt to escape. It is also important that no one should stand immediately in front of the entrance to the hole. When a ferret enters a burrow in which there are several rabbits, a prodigious scuffling and scurrying immediately takes place in the interior; and after a few minutes, if not frightened by sounds above, the occupants soon begin to bolt in rapid succession at the various exits. Like the other members of its tribe, a ferret almost invariably seizes a rabbit immediately behind the ear.

Ferrets are bred chiefly for rabbit and rat-hunting, both in Europe and the United States. Although they learn to know their masters to a certain extent. they are untrustworthy animals, and should be handled with caution. The ferret has no strong local attachments, and, therefore, requires to be strictly secured. It is also very susceptible to cold.

The ferret is of a light yellowish color, changing almost to white in winter. It is about fourteen inches long, with a tail of six inches. The eyes are pink.

The American species is known as the black-footed ferret and is found in the Rocky Mountain region.

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