Animal Symbolism of Ferrets
Ferrets are members of the weasel family, a mammal of the type Mustela putorius furo. The endangered black-footed ferret is the only ferret native to North America (the domestic ferret is a different species of European origin and has been domesticated for hundreds of years). Black-footed ferrets once numbered in the tens of thousands, but widespread destruction of their habitat and exotic diseases in the 1900s brought them to the brink of extinction. Only 18 remained in 1986. They are making a comeback however. In 2008 there were approximately 750 black-footed ferrets in the wild, and another 250 living in captive breeding facilities.
The black-footed ferret has a tan body with black legs and feet, a black tip on the tail and a black mask. There are four basic domesticated ferret colors: silver, albino, dark eyed white and sable. There are many different sources that will say that there are only two types of colors for ferrets, those colors being sable and albino. However, it is also believed that the additional colors are a result of the color combination of selective breeding. Color is based upon the eyes, nose, undercoat and guard hairs. The purest of the colors is albino. An albino ferret will have guard hairs that are white, a pink nose, pink eyes and a white undercoat. This particular color is easy to identify because it has not been mixed or blurred due to selective breeding. On the other end of the spectrum is the sable ferret. Its guard hairs are usually the darkest, but its undercoat is white. In addition, its nose and eyes are also dark in nature. Both the sable and albino are considered to be ferret colors that are extremely basic.
Although ferrets can and do live in the wild, most domesticated ferrets will not survive long without human care. Ferrets have very short digestive tracts and need to feed every four to six hours. While searching for food and water in unfamiliar settings, ferrets also run the risk of becoming prey of other predators. Any ferret that has lived indoors all of its life and then is abruptly thrust into unfamiliar outdoor surroundings would have little chance of surviving.
Archaeological and historical sources suggest that ferrets have been domesticated for at least 2,500 years. Greek historical works give reference to the ferret about 450 BC. Roman documents refer to the use of ferrets to hunt rabbits around the time of Christ. In the times of Aristotle they had been used for hunting rabbits and to secure barns from rodents. Because ferrets are very skillful tunnel hunters, it is believed that ferrets were used by the Egyptians as well as farmers and seafarers to get rid of rodents in barns and on ships. With the Moslem conquest of Spain in the 8th century, ferrets became known to the Arabs and spread through the more temperate parts of the Moslem world under the name "Furo." These little creatures were prized by the elite for their exceptional hunting ability, as were hawks and falcons. It was relatively common for ferrets to be released into the underbrush to flush out game birds which the hawks or falcons would bring down.
Ferrets arrived in North America by boat in the late 1600's, possibly with the original settlers of the New World. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, ferrets were bred for their fur for the production of fake mink coats. Other industrial applications of ferret skills included the stringing of electrical and telephone cables, as recently as the late 1960's. Boeing and British Columbia Telephones used ferrets to lay the guide wires for pulling heavy cables through conduits. This practice ended because the ferrets played in the tubes more than they worked.
Ferret Fun Facts:
• A male ferret is called a Hob where as a female ferret is called a Jill.
• Ferrets may have poor vision, but they have fantastic smelling and hearing abilities.
• Mustela Putorius Furo is the Latin name for Ferret.
• In the 1200's the English Royal court consisted of a Ferreter.
• The name ferret is derived from the Latin word, “furittus”, which means "little thief." Ferret owners can attest that this is a well deserved name, as ferrets will happily steal anything they can get their paws on and hide it in their house.
Ferrets are cheerful, playful animals with the inquisitiveness of the raccoon and the amiableness of a kitten. They are also opportunists, quick to take advantage and will filch anything they can drag to a safe hiding place to be used at a later time. Brainy and cunning the ferret shows us how to use our creativeness to build a safe haven for ourselves, and to stock up with things that may be needed - always be ready for any situation that may come into existence. The ferret is a good, helping ally to have around in hard times.
Ferrets do a “weasel war dance” in which they hop and jump frantically from side-to-side and up and down. The ferret's posture may become rigid with wide open jaws, momentary eye contact followed by thrashing or turning of the head from side to side, arching the back, goose bumps, and hopping to the side or backwards while facing the intended playmate. This is often accompanied by an excited panting sound that may sound like a hiss. In domestic animals, the war dance usually follows play or the successful capture of a toy or a stolen object. Ferrets are notoriously clumsy in their surroundings during their dance and will often bump into or fall over objects and furniture. Although the weasel war dance may make a ferret appear frightened or angry, they are often just excited and are usually harmless.
With their eyes that point forward straight down their noses, ferrets are highly focused on what is in front of them. This reminds those with this spirit animal to stay focused on their goals. Ferrets have a fine sense of smell, and can see clearly in the dark, linking them to the underworld. They have sharp intuition and their sensitivity is acute. They are able to see and know the hidden meaning behind everything. The ferret can help you understand yourself, your life, and the experiences you have far clearer. Use all of your senses equally if this is your animal guide. If underdeveloped you may have a leaning toward tunnel vision. An inflexible consciousness makes for needless concern and anxiety, therefore caution is advised. Having a light-hearted attitude and playful activities are helpful.
When ferrets become scared, their tail goes all bushy and they let out a musty scent, which assists in getting rid of some predators, - however they do not feel safe until hidden deep inside their tunnel. For humans this represents the need for a more secure life. If this is your power animal then you will need a special place where you can rejuvenate and also to contemplate.
Ferrets are extremely nimble and agile, teaching us how to maneuver quickly so as not to be in danger.
Ferret Wisdom Includes:
• Ability to see hidden meanings behind things
• Power of observation
• Extremely focused
• Healing and protection from sickness and danger
• Knowing how to play and have fun
• Moving with lightning speed to avoid danger
• Seeing the truth behind the façade
• Learning the real intent of others
If this is your spirit animal you may need to ask yourself: Do you need to move with more speed in some area(s) of your life? Do you have a secluded, secure place for yourself? Do you need to strengthen your power of observation? Do you need to take time to play?
The ferret is a powerful totem, and can aid you to uncover a hidden part of yourself; deep beneath the surface are the answers to life's mysteries. If you are finding it hard to comprehend something in your life, meditate on Ferret and listen to and follow Ferret’s advice.
Ferret’s Energy is Good For:
• Anyone who needs to be more focused in their life
• Someone who needs to learn to use all of their senses
• Anyone who may need to “hole up” for awhile and regroup
• Those who need to learn how to play with abandon
• Anyone who needs to be physically nimble and quick
Ferrets in Myth and Legend:
When Genghis Khan’s “Golden Horde”, the descendants of his Tartars, turned their eyes towards northern Russia, they met with an unexpected adversary. Fifteen year old wizard Volga Vseslavich decided to challenge the Tartars with an army of barely 7000.
First Volga turned himself into a ram to go through the mountains undetected. When he neared Khan’s fortress, he became a small bird and flew to the window sill of Khan’s bed chamber. He heard Khan’s wife tell her husband of a dream she had where a small Northern bird slew a Southern raven. She recognized the small bird in her dream as a wizard and begged her husband not to attack the north. As Khan laughed at his wife, Volga changed into a ferret, and entering the armory, chewed through the arrows and bow strings, destroying the weapons. He then entered the stables as a wolf and killed the horses of Khan’s army.
Volga then flew back to his army as a swift falcon. Marching his army from Kiev, he changed them all into ants as they neared Khan’s palace. The sentries therefore, saw nothing, until Volga’s soldiers were retransformed into men, right at the gates. With no warning, weapons, or horses, Khan’s army was defeated.
• Because ferrets cough so seldom, people believed that they were a cure for the whooping cough. A person would pour milk into a saucer and then have a ferret drink some of it. Then, the remainder of the milk was given as medicine to the sick person. (British and Irish tradition)
• If you are bitten on the neck by a ferret, you will become one of the undead. (Central and Eastern European tradition)
• To have a ferret in the house is always lucky.
• European superstitions tell that ferrets can understand what people say.
• To encounter a ferret means your enterprise will be successful.
• If a ferret, stoat or weasel jumps over the stomach of a pregnant woman then the child will be born with a birthmark.
• Donkey's milk and ferret's (food) leavings, together with the fasting spit and boiled primroses, were time-honored cures for jaundice and other mystery complaints.
Ferret photo from: http://www.ferrets-as-pets.com/ferret-information-interesting-info-...
Animal Magick—The Art of Recognizing & Working with Familiars by D.J. Conway