Musings on Mustelids and the Fault of the Ferrets

This is the result of rooting about in my unused drafts. The “yesterday” I refer to is about three years ago, but I don’t think that matters. I have added a couple of links and a few minor edits but it is mainly as written at the time, showing the timeless nature of my aimless ramblings.

If I’m honest, I spent a bit too much time yesterday musing on the trustworthiness, or otherwise, of members of the mustelid family. It is not really a suitable subject of thought for anyone over the age of twelve. However, if you look at the world wide web you will find that I am not the only one who considers such questions.

It was, as usual, the fault of the weasels. I could say, and was in fact tempted to say “the fault of the ferrets” but that would have been untrue. The train of thought was, I admit, started by me thinking of a ferret in connection with a pedestrian who walked out in front of me as I was driving, but quickly moved on to thoughts of politics and weasels. I like alliteration, but I like accuracy more.

We describe evasive words as “weasel words” and refer to untrustworthy people as weasels. We also use the word “ferrety” about people we don’t like. (This “we” is my opinion of what people generally do, but it might just be me. Please feel free to distance yourself from my pronouncements if you feel I am being weaselist.) We even have the expression “morals of a stoat”. I checked that one up just in case it was just me, but find it originates from a speech in the House of Commons. Polecats are generally only spoken of when a measure of smelliness is required. All in all, they do not have a good reputation.

Badgers, on the other hand, and otters, are generally portrayed sympathetically. I see the hand of Kenneth Grahame in this, aided and abetting by BB. Martens are not generally portrayed in fiction and we don’t have wolverines in the UK, though we don’t have racoons either and that doesn’t stop Disney putting them in films set in the UK.

The original stopped after Kenneth Grahame so I have finished it off and will now leave you with the epitaph from the BB link. The picture is, I admit, not a mustelid, but it is the nearest i have.

The wonder of the world
The beauty and the power,
The shapes of things,
Their colours, lights and shades,
These I saw.
Look ye also while life lasts.

16 thoughts on “Musings on Mustelids and the Fault of the Ferrets

  1. jodierichelle

    And, Simon, I don’t know many of those derogatory mustelid sayings. ( We do call slimy people weasels.) But I know none of the others. I think you need to meet Tess.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      If I want an unsympathetic view of anything I will ask a farmer . . . 🙂

      I once stood in the middle of a field on a free range chicken unit, next to a fence made from chicken wire. The wire had a number of cone shaped bulges in it and also a sliding door. The farmer explained the fence had ben put up across a badger run and after several weeks of the badgers smashing through the fence with their faces he had put the door in and opened it every night as he shut the chickens away for the night. badgers have many lessons to teach us on the importance of persistence and the ephemeral nature of man-made barriers. If only they could teach us the benefits of TB vaccination . . .

  2. Lavinia Ross

    I had a pet ferret named Joshua a long, long time ago. He was in general a good boy and used a litter box like a cat, though he did not cover his business like a cat, which drove the cat crazy. The cat would come in behind the ferret when he was done, covering the excrement up until he had created a small “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” mountain in the box. The ferret was also into everything not locked down, and used to raise the toilet lid at night and let it crash back down.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I now want a ferret, seems like fun. I once went round to a house to get a lad signed up for the rugby team and found myself surrounded by ferrets and trophies and a general air of madness. Each to his own . . . 🙂

    2. jodierichelle

      Lavinia, my daughter and her boyfriend have a cat and a ferret. I pet-sat for them for several weeks this past summer and they both charmed me. I was nervous about Tess, the ferret, because she had always wanted to climb inside of my pants with me. But once I got to know her better, I had a blast with her. She’d drag my wallet out of my purse first thing, and would spend the rest of the time putting other things into my purse (including a tiny bottle of vodka). We had games we played and I could tell when she was wild with excitement (often). Really – she charmed me.


Leave a Reply