Are Ferrets Illegal in California?
The United States Department of Agriculture classifies ferrets as domestic animals. Ferrets are legal as pets almost everywhere. But a few states (and countries) are slow to accept that ferrets are domestic animals.
Strangely enough, parrots are legal pets. Although some may argue that hand raised parrots are domesticated, not too long ago they were stolen from their tropical nests and smuggled into the the U.S and other places. This practice still goes on due to the profit to be made on the illegal parrot trade. At most, hand raised parrots are only a few generations removed from their wild relatives. Since they have not been kept as pets for long, they retain many of their wild characteristics. But parrots don’t face the discrimination ferrets face.
So why are these cute little ferrets the focus of so much controversy?
There are many viewpoints on ferrets, based on misconceptions and misinformation. Some insist that ferrets are wild animals. Others believe that ferrets are not wild, but exotic. Then there are those that admit that ferrets are domesticated, but still think they are dangerous.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about ferrets is that they are wild–no different than a skunk or raccoon. However, ferrets have been domesticated for thousands of years. They depend on humans for survival. So then how can they be considered wild? Unfortunately, this misconception may be rooted in how scientists named them long ago.
The ferret is not a descendant of the Black Footed Ferret. Instead, it is a descendant of the European polecat (Mustela putorius furo). This scientific name is the legal glitch that is used by some governments to classify ferrets as wild. With this wild label, comes the belief that ferrets are dangerous, unpredictable and carry disease.
Another problem with the ferret’s name is that the Black Footed Ferret also has ferret in it’s name–another wrong association. Then there is the ferret’s appearance. Some believe ferrets to be wild because they looks like their wild cousins–minks and weasels.
Then there is the unbelievable misconception that ferrets will escape, unite and form feral colonies. Those who believe this actually think that packs of ferrets will destroy native wildlife and livestock!
Beside this argument being just play silly, there are reasons to discount this scenario. Beside the fact that ferrets are not wild, are indoor pets, and rely on people to take care of them, the majority of ferrets are spayed or neutered. In order for any domestic animal to become feral and form a colony, they have to have the necessary skills for survival and they have to have feral breeders to continue the colony. Pet ferrets have neither.
Unfortunately, ferrets are illegal in California.
California, as well as a few other states and countries, continue to outlaw ferrets as pets.
If you live in California (or anywhere else ferrets are illegal) and are still considering getting a ferret, please don’t.
There are severe consequences for that cute little critter if she is discovered. Remember, not everyone sees ferrets for the adorable little animals they are. Even if you hide her in the house and try to keep her secret from everyone, it only takes one person to report you. Remember, she will need to go to the vet too. You would need to find a vet that treats ferrets. What if you get pulled over by the police on your way to the vet? What if someone in the vet’s office doesn’t approve of you having a ferret? If she is reported, she will inevitably be taken from you. In the best case scenario, she will be shipped to a shelter in a ferret friendly area. In the worst case, she will be put to sleep. You may be subject to fines, up to $2,000, as well.
If you want to join the campaign to make ferrets legal in all states, visit www.legalizeferrets.org