Magazine article The Spectator

Fecund Ferrets

Magazine article The Spectator

Fecund Ferrets

Article excerpt

Last week Fatima's and Selma's vaginas swelled up. I was dreading their coming into season this year because it is said that ferrets sicken and die if they aren't mated, and my vasectomised hob ferret, a big, smelly, nippy sod, ran away last autumn. (If you are reading this, Suleiman, please come home.)

Ferrets are 'photo-periodic' breeders, which means they come into season hence the tumescences - as the days begin to draw out. As Fatima and Selma's hutch is lit by a security light at night, they generally come into season three weeks or even a month before other ferrets in the district, on account of which they have attained a certain celebrity in local ferret-owning circles.

Being hobless, and not wanting my fills to get out of condition, once vaginas started swelling up I had to act, and fairly quickly. But what to do? Nobody else in our ferret club possesses a vasectomised hob - they are all too tight to fork out the 20 fee charged by the local vet for performing the operation. And the last thing I want is the prospect of two litters of ferret kits on my hands, eating me out of house and home, biting my fingers to shreds as a thank you, and nobody wanting to buy them. You can't even give ferret kits away around here in the spring, what with everybody trying to off-load kits at the same time, and the rabbiting finished till autumn.

When I rang our club chairman to get his advice on the matter, he said why not bring my fills over to his place and put them to Nelson, his stud hob. With any luck, he said, Fatima and Selma might eat their own litters anyway; otherwise I could always 'make sailors' out of the kits as soon as they are born.

There was a time, in pre-myxomatosis days, when our chairman was catching so many rabbits with ferrets he had to invest in a donkey to carry them all home. So he knows what he's talking about. The following day I took Fatima and Selma over to his smallholding, which is on the edge of Dartmoor.

When I arrived, he was all upset because a fox had just stolen one of his ducks. An otherwise placid, nature-loving man, our chairman has a great antipathy to foxes, and devotes an ever increasing part of his dwindling energies trying to assassinate them. …

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