While your furry little love bug scurries around at your feet, you may just think of him as the fantastic, lively companion that he is. But there is a long history with ferrets that is rather fascinating to look into – that is, if you can stop playing with your animal long enough to read this short article.
Although there were references to an animal looking like a ferret as far back as 450 BC, whether or not those animals really were ferrets is uncertain since the references did not include a comprehensive description of the animal. It wasn’t until some point between 63 BC and 24 AD that more references of the ferret would be made. This occurred during a time when rabbits were overpopulating in the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. The ravenous animals were consuming the crops to the point of causing a food scarcity on the island. The animal that was brought in to chase those pesky little bunnies out of their holes and into the hunter’s snare was one that showed the habits of a ferret. In reality, the majority of the early references to ferrets had to do with rabbits, as the animal was apparently typically utilized as a hunter. This makes perfect sense, given that the ferret is carefully associated to the Mongoose, another excellent hunter.
What is so fascinating about the ferret’s modest beginnings is that no one is truly sure about the country of origin for this mischievous animal. Some believe they got their start in the Mediterranean, but due to the fact that there is no solid evidence indicating any one location, nothing has been shown. Also unclear is precisely how the ferret made its way to Europe. However, documentation does show that they were there in the early 1200s. The very first references to ferrets in England were in 1223. In 1281, a member of the Royal Court kept a ferret buddy.
The domesticated ferret quickly spread through the European nations, hot on the heels of any place bunnies made a showing. Historically, our buddy the ferret acted as an elite member of the animal hunting population. Typically, ferrets were used in combination with hawks for searching out bunnies and killing them. The two worked side by side to the end goal of capturing their victim. The ferret would launch into the brush where it would scare hidden game out into the open, where the hawk would scoop it up and return the game to their master.
By the 1800s, the arrival of the domesticated cats pushed the ferret as hunter to the back of the bus. However, these sweet animals were still revered as family animals, even sitting with their owners for portrait paintings throughout that period. Modern times has seen ferrets act as loving companions, motion picture stars, and unfortunately, even as the parts of a lovely fur coat. Luckily, the practice of making fur coats from ferret fur ended years ago, and the animal takes pleasure residing in a time in history where they get to live the good life that their caring owner offers them.