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Ferret frenzy

The Ferret FrolicI’m pleased to report that this year I finally managed to make it to the Ferret Frolic, which was held indoors at the Jack Purcell Community Centre yesterday afternoon!


Ferret Man with FerretIf you’re not familiar with ferrets (and really, why would you be, unless you play Dungeons and Dragons?) they’re kind of weasly-looking things with elongated bodies and tiny limbs, and they smell funny. They’ve been compared to polecats, but I don’t find that comparison particularly useful since we don’t get a lot of polecats around Ottawa.


2009 Ferret CalendarFerrets are inquisitive and busy and their owners seem to really, really like them. A lot. It’s almost unnatural how much they like them. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. I think everybody should like their pets a lot. It’s just a bit weird is all. There’s this whole freaky ferret subculture out there.

Okay, so what happens at a Ferret Frolic? Well, ferret owners brings their ferrets and they have a mini ferret fair with booths and displays and services and ferret games and contests and stuff.

Adopt a ferret, but not todayThere are cages of adoptable ferrets from the Ferret Rescue Society . However, there are no adoptions permitted on Ferret Frolic Day. I assume this is because they want to discourage impulse ferret shopping. (I wasn’t seized by that particular impulse.)

Ferret ShoppingThere are lots of ferret things for sale at the Frolic, like ferret harnesses and carry bags and magazines and slings and books and ferret health and beauty grooming aids and calendars.

There was a guy who spoke into a microphone about ferret health for a very long time. He said things like “And now I’m going to tell you about some exciting news about Adrenal Gland Disease.”

Ferret woman cleaning ferret earsThere were some practical health services available. For example, you could pay this Ferret woman to clean your ferret’s ears. There was a ferret toe-nail-clipper guy too.

There were plenty of frivolous ferret activities too.

Ferret on the Ferret Toboggan This one struck me as kind of odd. It’s a ferret toboggan. You pay a dollar and a volunteer throws your ferret down a steep slide. At the bottom of the slide there are figurines, and your ferret can crash into them and knock them over. I’m new to ferrets, and I certainly don’t presume to know what they do or do not like, but I was a little skeptical about this particular game.

“Do you think the ferrets like that?” I asked a woman in a wheelchair who was waiting in the toboggan line with her ferret, Jack. She looked at me, and then she looked at Jack. She dangled his long wiggly body in front of her face and said “Do you like that Jack? Do you like it? Do you like the toboggan? Do you like it Jack?”

Santa FerretAfter a few minutes of this, I sidled over to the Santa Claus booth. For $5 you could get a photo of your ferret sitting on Santa’s lap. He wasn’t a very jolly looking Santa, and there wasn’t much demand for his services. Perhaps all the ferrets had already been photographed with Santa by the time I got there.

Little Red Wagon Ferret PhotoboothThere was another photo booth too, where you could get a picture of your ferret sitting in a little red wagon. I wanted to get a nice blogworthy picture of a ferret in the little red wagon, but nobody was getting that done while I was there.

There was also a gift-wrapping contest. For a dollar, they’d wrap up your ferret and then they time him to see how long it took him to unwrap himself.

Here’s a ferret in a hand-knit sweater, checking out my shoe.
Halloween ferret checking out my shoe

Ferret auction itemsThere was also a silent auction, with proceeds going to the Ferret Rescue Society.

There was a playroom, with mazes and ball tubs for the ferrets to play in.
Ferrets in the playroom

All that frivolous frolicky ferret fun wore these two little guys out. I bet exhausted ferrets all over Ottawa were taking advantage of that extra hour of sleep last night. I know I did.
Cuddly sleepy ferrets

This is actually one of the things I love best about living in Ottawa. There are weird quirky things going on all over this city every weekend. Even if ferrets aren’t my thing, I love knowing that some people are passionate enough about ferrets to create an event especially for them.

12 comments to Ferret frenzy

  • What a wonderful post! I don’t have a ferret, but I think they’re charming, and this is a great report. Thanks very much.

  • grace

    My ferret loving (can one really own a ferret) friend claimed that living with a ferret is like living with a perpetual three-year-old.

    I find them quite appealing but the smell is just a little too funky.

    And every year I am sad that I missed the Frolic :0(

  • More than you need but… I love the internet!
    Cuteoverload calls them furry knee socks with eyes.
    A little ferreting around Wikipedia turns up the following:

    Weasels are mammals in the genus Mustela of the Mustelidae family.
    Originally, the name “weasel” was applied to one species of the genus, the European form of the Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis). Early literary references to weasels, for example their common appearances in fables, refer to this species rather than to the genus as a whole, reflecting what is still the common usage in the United Kingdom. In technical discourse, however, as in American usage, the term “weasel” can refer to any member of the genus, or to the genus as a whole. Of the 16 extant species currently classified in the genus Mustela, ten have “weasel” in their common name. Among those that do not are the stoat or ermine, the two species of mink, and the polecats or ferrets.

    The ferret is a domestic mammal of the type Mustela putorius furo.
    Several other small, elongated carnivorous mammals belonging to the family Mustelidae (weasels) also have the word “ferret” in their common names, including an endangered species, the Black-footed Ferret. The ferret is a very close relative of the polecat, but it is as yet unclear whether it is a domesticated form of the European Polecat, the Steppe Polecat, or some hybrid of the two.

    Skunks (sometimes referred to as polecats) are mammals best known for their ability to excrete a strong, foul-smelling odor. They belong to the family Mephitidae and to the order Carnivora. There are 11 species of skunks, which are divided into four genera: Mephitis (hooded and striped skunks, two species), Spilogale (spotted skunks, two species), Mydaus (stink badgers, two species), and Conepatus (hog-nosed skunks, five species). The two skunk species in the Mydaus genus inhabit Indonesia and the Philippines; all other skunks inhabit the Americas from Canada to central South America.

    Skunks were formerly considered to be a subfamily of the Mustelidae family of weasels and related animals (where some taxonomists still place them), but recent genetic evidence shows that they are not as closely related to the Mustelidae as formerly thought.

  • i have lived in ottawa all my life and had no idea this even existed!

  • Wow, that is possibly the greatest post I have ever read. Ever. It’s exactly what I would want to attend some day, but for bulldogs….

  • they look pretty cute to me. if I didn’t already have fish, birds and a cat…..

  • “Ottawa Polecats” – sounds like a good name for a sports team.

  • Your groundhog loving mother was once tempted to get a ferret … but the smell decided me against it. I loved this post.

  • deb

    I love the pumpkin sweater

  • I wish someone would hold a similar gift-wrapping contest for golden dooldes, because I’d pay a lot to see someone try to gift-wrap my dog.

    He would have loooved the ferret frolic …

  • I have a family friend who used to have tons and tons of ferrets. I remember her taking her ferrets to the frolic, though I’ve never been. They are serious trouble, those ferrets are. So cute, but little monsters. I remember they made tunnels through the back of the couch, and were always getting into new kinds of mischief.

    I can’t stop laughing over the gift-wrapping contest. I have this sudden urge to get out some giftwrap and tape, and find Ziggy the easy-to-torture cat… *shifty eyes*

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