Why Are Ferrets Illegal In Some Places?
Ferrets make great pets. They are cute, playful and will keep your house free of mice and rats. But are they still more wild than domesticated? Ferret owning is illegal in California, Hawaii and some cities and counties, and yet perfectly legal in other parts of the country and in many European countries. What gives?
Ferrets Have Teeth
Ferrets explore the world like a baby or a puppy does - with their mouths. However, a baby has blunt teeth and a puppy can learn quickly to curb his or her bite before they get their permanent teeth in. A ferret, however, has pretty prominent choppers due to their carnivorous diet. This would seem to be blatantly obvious to anyone picking up a ferret, but some will pick up a ferret right after handling food and be really scared when they are nibbled.
Basically, some ferrets with bad behavior have ruined it for the rest of the ferret owning community. The same problem is seen now in owners of Rottweilers, Pit Bulls and German Shepherds. You do need to know a bit about ferret behavior and have reasonably thick skin when working with a ferret. Because little children often lack common sense, they can receive a severe bite before they learn to wash their hands before touching a ferret.
Ferrets also can get rabies and distemper, so some areas of the country are adamant on any animal that can't be fully controlled that can get rabies to not be in the neighborhood.
Where Are Ferrets Illegal?
The list changes depending on the ever fluctuating nature of local law, so it would be best to contact:
- Your local Fish and Game department
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- Nearest humane shelter
- Your veterinarian
- The American Ferret Association
Please check that having a ferret is legal where you live before you bring one home. If you are found breaking the law, not only will you have to pay a stiff fine, but your ferret will be killed "in the interest of public safety".
If Ferrets Are Legal Where You Live
In some places like New Jersey, you need a license in order to have a ferret. These are usually called "exotic animal licenses". Prices are usually under $100. You will need proof of inoculations, too.
If you bring a ferret into your life, it is your responsibility to learn about your ferret as much as possible. Don't let him or her be handled by strangers. If you can't teach your ferret not to bite while playing, put a sign on his cage saying "DO NOT TOUCH". Know where your ferret is at all times - they do like to burrow and investigate everything. If your ferret still insists on tasting you or anyone else, make sure you spray bitter apple anti-chew repellent or something equally distasteful on your hands before you handle the ferret.
With responsible and caring behavior, you can make yourself a good ambassador for ferret owners. Perhaps then owning ferrets will soon be seen as the norm rather than the exception, and no one will need to fear them anywhere.