Ferret, or Mustela Furo, L. an useful animal, which is originally a native of Africa, whence it was introduced into Spain, and subsequently into this country. It has red, fiery eyes; the colour of its whole body is of a pale yellow; and its length, from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail, is about 19 inches.
The ferret requires to be kept carefully within doors, as, unlike other wild animals, it is incapable of procuring its own subsistence,— The female is of a smaller size than the male, and produces twice annually from five to six, and sometimes even eight or nine young ones, after a gestation of six weeks.
These animals are employed for the purpose of hunting rabbits, to which they are mortal enemies. They are always muzzled previously to being admitted into the burrows, in order that they may not kill the rabbits, but only drive them out of their holes into nets, spread out for the purpose of taking them. In the West of England, they are frequently kept in farmyards and barns, for the purpose of destroying the mice and rats infesting corn-stacks. - Ferrets are reared in casks or boxes, where they are provided with beds of hemp or flax. They sleep almost continually, and, on waking, very eagerly search for food, which consists chiefly of bread, milk, etc. They are easily tamed, and rendered docile, but are extremely irascible; and, as they at all times emit a disagreeable odour, it in in creases and becomes extremely offensive when they are irritated. Their motions are nimble; and they are at the same time so vigorous, that they can easily conquer a rabbit, which is at least four times larger than its adversary.